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Open Door Policy

If you’re feeling safe (in a computing sense) you might want to rethink that view.  I just came across a USA Today article that leads off with:

Microsoft acknowledged a critical vulnerability Wednesday in nearly all versions of its flagship Windows operating system software, the first such design flaw to affect its latest Windows Server 2003 software.  Microsoft said the vulnerability could allow hackers to seize control of a victim’s Windows computer over the Internet, stealing data, deleting files or eavesdropping on e-mails.

Yes, there’s a patch, so if you’re using Windows, go get it before crackers reverse-engineer the patch to figure out the flaw and start attacking systems.  As it turns out, Windows ME is immune to the problem, so those folks are safe, at least in this case.  Oh, and there have been two more security bulletins and patches published since the one in question, which was released yesterday.

Hardly a week goes by any more that I don’t see one of these and feel really, really glad that all my important personal data—like my books and a current mirror of this Web site—is on a Macintosh.  One running the Classic OS, I might add, so it’s even less vulnerable than OS X machines, which are pretty darned safe.  Plus the system crashes a whole lot less often than Microsoft releases Windows security patches, and when it does crash it’s usually because of Microsoft Word.

Anyway, back to the article I was reading.  Near the end of the piece, the author adds a really chilling note:

The announcement came one day after the Department of Homeland Security announced that it awarded a five-year, $90-million contract for Microsoft to supply all its most important desktop and server software for about 140,000 computers inside the new federal agency.

Just the other day, Kat and I were kicking around the idea of moving to another country as sort of a grand adventure and interesting career move for us both.  Now the idea almost seems like a reasonable personal safety measure.

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