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COMMENT Passing the buck is a game at which Microsoft is adept. In the computer security industry, one needs to have tons of chutzpah to hold others responsible for one's own security stuff-ups.


The good folk at Redmond possess this quality in spades.

Probably the best example of chutzpah that I can recall came from a young Bill Gates many years ago when the company was getting off the starting blocks. As Paul Allen, the other co-founder, had also taken up a job as head of software at MITs, the maker of the Altair, Gates argued that since he was working for Microsoft only and Allen was dividing his time, he (Gates) should have 64 percent of the founders' shares and Allen should only get 36 percent.

Shortly after the division was done this way, young Bill went to MITs founder Ed Roberts and got a job there as well, for $US10 an hour. Microsoft's culture has always been defined by Gates.

Scott Charney's comments at the ongoing RSA conference are a good example of the blithe manner in which Microsoft tries to force the rest of the world to carry the can for the abysmal security of its products.

The monoculture otherwise known as Windows is in the main responsible for the plethora of viruses, worms, malware, scumware and other such $wares that plague the internet. DDoS attacks come, more often than not, from armies of Windows machines grouped in a botnet.

Sure, there are other operating systems involved too but they are in a minority. A very small minority. Windows is the main problem and everyone, his/her dog, his/her cat and his/her goldfish is aware of that.

For Microsoft, security has always been a PR problem. A good example of how it goes about conveying this message to the masses is detailed here.

Microsoft is the Typhoid Mary of the internet - with a little twist. The company is fully aware that its products are the problem; Mary Mallon was a carrier of typhoid and was unaware of it.

 

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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