Over the last few weeks, LinuxToday editor-in-chief Carla Schroeder has been understandably critical of old media. In reporting on outbreaks of Windows-exploiting viruses and malware, they’ve consistently failed to call a spade a spade, and explain the root cause: “It’s Windows malware, not computer malware!” (emphasis mine)
Well, it seems our friends over at the New York Times finally got a fact straight: in reporting on the Conficker worm, they gave us the straight story – and even threw in a little extra, unsolicited but very tasty nugget of truth at the end…
Conficker is a program that is spread by exploiting several weaknesses in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Various versions of the software have spread widely around the globe since October, mostly outside the United States because there are more computers overseas running unpatched, pirated Windows. (The program does not infect Macintosh or Linux-based computers.)
My friend Helios has, in countless blog entries, conferred a marvelous rhetorical question: Why would you ever buy a product that doesn’t work properly until you buy another product?! If shelling out the dough for Windows, and putting up with its insecurities, instabilities and invasions of privacy wasn’t bad enough, users end up needing antivirus software to keep their Windows PCs happy – at least until the virus authors up the ante:
It is possible to detect and remove Conficker using commercial antivirus tools offered by many companies. However, the most recent version of the [worm] has a significantly improved capacity to remove commercial antivirus software and to turn off Microsoft’s security update service. It can also block communications with Web services provided by security companies to update their products. It even systematically opens holes in firewalls in an effort to improve its communication with other infected computers.
It takes some powerful emotions, rationalizations and denials for people to tolerate prolonged exposure to the inexcusable – whether it’s bad working conditions, abusive relationships or disobedient computers. Yet, for some reason, the computing public always takes the Pied Piper from Redmond back – despite the wide availability of superior, and in many cases free, alternatives. Alternatives that don’t fall prey to evil nasties like Conficker. In many unacceptable situations, the solution stares the victim in the face at every turn – but before you can take that first step toward freedom, you’ve got to accept that it’s out there, and that you deserve better.