Feeds

US Reps question anti-virus companies' integrity

Tough day on Capitol Hill discussing the Love Bug

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

US Congressman Anthony Weiner (Democrat, New York) blasted the anti-virus software industry for being humiliated by the Love Bug in a five-minute tirade during House Science Subcommittee hearings this week.

"There's an industry here that's come up to deal with viruses, and this looks to me like a ground-ball virus. Frankly, this is an utter, abject failure of an industry that has sprung up to deal with these types of things," Weiner told anti-virus outfit McAfee's Sandra England.

But that was just a warm-up. He next cast doubt on the damage estimates, implying that they're deliberately inflated by the industry to increase interest in protective software. "I mean the numbers here are little bit absurd, you know, 'billions'. We don't know how much it cost; it might not have cost anybody anything," he observed dryly.

Progressively working himself up with his own rhetoric, he turned openly sarcastic. "A teenager in the Philippines whips the McAfee company so badly that you come before Congress and say, 'hundreds of millions of dollars in damage has been done, because, oh, we were so surprised it came across Outlook Express. We were shocked [to see that] it looked like Melissa...'"

"It isn't going to get any easier than this. I mean, [virus authors] aren't going to knock on your door with a disk [in hand] and say, 'this virus is going out on Monday morning,'" he said scornfully.

He hammered England relentlessly. "You're supposed to deal with viruses. What form do [viruses] usually come in? An announcement? A memo? They come in the form of something that you've got to anticipate from past experiences."

And then the kicker: "Why did your stock prices go up after this?"

Weiner suggested a simple, common-sense fix of his own, proposing that a pop-up window might be added to Outlook Express to warn users when they're about to send multiple copies of a message unwittingly. Hardly an insurmountable challenge, one would think, for a company that touts itself at the most innovative in the world.

Indeed, such a simple feature might have slowed the Love Bug's spread; and indeed, the Melissa experience might have suggested it a year ago. But security assurance outfit :ICSA.net's Chief Technology Officer Peter Tippett said that users should know better than to open an attachment from a known e-mail correspondent entitled 'I Love You'.

This did not win him a great deal of sympathy. Representative Gil Gutknecht (Republican, Minnesota) found it hard to believe that anyone would hold consumers responsible for trusting vulnerable software.

"We're responsible? If I'm a Senior at a university and I've got a semester's worth of notes and two term papers [looming], and somebody sends me an e-mail that says 'I love you,' I'm not supposed to open it?"

It is difficult to argue against the position that users deserve operating systems and applications that aren't vulnerable to such easy exploits. And of course if Windows, which represents over 85 percent of the market, were an open source product, we'd already have them. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.