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Seven Steps to Software Security

Letters We thought we'd spice things up a little this week and do something different. Among all the letters we get telling us that we are ignorant morons undoubtedly in the pay of [insert large technology company's name here], we do get the odd bit of praise.

Don't worry, we won't let it go to our heads, but were running one such letter today. It arrived following our report of Google-competitor Copernic's warnings over the privacy implications of the Google Desktop:

Hi Andrew,

I have just installed and started using GDS so your article was an interesting and relevant read.

I think the problem with this all and the inevitable take-up of GDS as a worldwide product is that Google has achieved a trustworthy status, both from their "free" products and from their philosophy during their IPO. This causes a certain blindness on the part of the user and a willingness to click-through the license agreements, act first and think later.

But the other problem is nobody is doing this as well as them - I haven't tried the Copernic search but GDS sure as hell kicks Windows Search .... perhaps this is part of the reason that Microsoft has dropped WinFS from Longhorn.... as usual, let the competitors develop their products, then assimilate later on!

Anyway, I thought your article was very interesting and just wanted to drop you a few of my views - completely uninvited, of course, but I'm new to all this pro-active internetting....!

Cheers,

Tom

Now, we're sure we can look forward to the usual torrent of abuse resuming, unabated.


Next, a few thoughts about Bits of Freedom's experiment with some Dutch ISPs. Would the providers take down material on the basis of totally unsubstantiated threats? Well the answer is that yes, they would. Quite happily. But this should not be a surprise, you said:

Although it is quite unfortunate that ISPs react so badly, I feel that it is hardly surprising. An ISP is not a Free Speech advocate, it is a technically-specialized company with earning money in mind. And litigation is a very costly prospect. ISPs have come under constant attack by RIAA et al. shenanigans for the past few years. Some have attempted resistance, and many of those have had their ears cuffed by a judge. The fact that those who have been vindicated by a court are entirely too rare has obviously sent a wake-up call to the ISP community : cave in quickly to avoid litigation. Once the example was set, the ball started rolling. As long as there is the possibility that any judge decide in favor of a copyright holder over Free Speech, you can count ISPs out as your first line of defence.

Pascal


It's interesting that whilst some hosts do this readily for legitimate sites, they won't pull a fake bank or security company for love nor money. Ask the guys at 419eater.

David


I realize you were only quoting your source in writing, "freedom of speech stands no chance against Texan-style private ISP justice", but I want to note that, as a resident of Houston, after reading your story I fear Dutch-style private ISP justice a deal more than Texan. Perhaps Bits of Freedom should test some Texan ISPs before they start slandering them.

Regards,

Robert A. Allen Houston, Texas


For various reasons, you were not impressed by the banking industry's anti-phishing efforts:

Let me get this straight ... because people aren't reading sites properly (and therefore screwing themselves over) and are just submitting any old rubbish as long as it 'looks ok' (forget the blatant spelling errors etc) to any old site ... the banks create a text heavy, boring, monotonous site which requires people to pay the utmost attention to understand, which is the 'ignorance' they're 'guilty' of already?

Right. Genius. That's going to work isn't it?

Richard


I'm postmaster at Sussex University. The UK banks' anti-phishing website is very welcome, especially at a time when we have students arriving on campus, many of whom will be new to banking.

Its a shame that the banks accessibility version doesn't work in the Safari web browser!

Ian


A couple of, rather different, thoughts on the use of David Beckham's picture in a trojan:

>his highly talented singer wife Victoria. A couple of things. Firstly, thank-you for the biggest laugh I've had all week. Secondly, the G+T I have just sprayed all over my laptop isn't cheap, so can I have some warning next time please?

Kind Regards, Craig.


To quote from your article:

"Beckham's marriage to his highly talented singer wife Victoria"

Is it fair to mislead those fortunate enough not to have heard her yet?

Adam

All we're saying to that is: "Oh dear."


And finally, we also reported this week that efforts are being made to address digital exclusion. It seems the most unlikely people will benefit.

You wrote that "The DIP report defines those most at risk of digital exclusion as the unemployed, people with 'literacy issues' and old age pensioners".

And, of course, people like the Prime Minister, who by his own admission can barely operate a keyboard. Of course, he meant that as a proud boast, not a confession of ignorance. After all, he has flunkeys to do that sort of thing for him.

Tom

Doesn't everyone have a flunkey to type for them?

Type faster, minion...no, don't type that, or that I said that, look, stop it will you? [Could all staff stop abusing the flunkeys, please - Ed]

...which is as good a point as any to conclude this Tuesday's trawl of the postbag. Keep 'em coming though - there'll be another load of letters going up on Friday. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

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