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09.14.08

Eye on Microsoft: Failures, Corruption, Spying, Insecurity and Voting Machines

Posted in Apple, Fraud, Google, Security, Standard, Vista, Windows at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Technical Failures

Here is an excellent new essay which explains why some Windows crashes are simply inexcusable. It uses the latest Apple-Vista ‘allergy’ as an example.

“Read my lips; no new taxes,” President George H. W. Bush; “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” President Bill Clinton;” and “Windows Vista has turned into a phenomenal product, better than any other OS we’ve ever built and far, far better than any other software available today, Co-president of Microsoft’s Platforms & Services Division Jim Allchin. Three great recent lies, but there’s only one of them that’s still being maintained as the truth: That Vista is a great operating system. Please, it’s not even stable.

[...]

Better still, I’d like to see all operating system developers to take a long hard look at what Andrew S. Tanenbaum has been up to with Minix, the operating system that inspired Linus Torvalds to write Linux. In Minix 3, all device drivers live in user space and its use of what Tanenbaum calls proper fault isolation goes a long way to making sure that bad code in a single place can’t take down an entire operating system.

Ed Bought [sic] is already spinning this ‘on behalf’ of Microsoft in ZDNet. The Apple-faithful are furious over this.

Corruption

We have covered rather convincing allegations of Microsoft corruption and Novell corruption in recent weeks. The SEC is finally said to be stepping up to crack down on this disease.

Laying out his priorities, the new enforcement chief for the Securities and Exchange Commission in San Francisco said Thursday he expects an upswing in fraud cases against public companies.

Knowing Microsoft’s heavy lobbying activities, the SEC is likely to be left at bay as far as Microsoft is concerned. That’s despite the many known issues (older essay).

The so-called “Gates Seven” are re sponsible—whether by accident or design—for creating this massive corruption of our free market system. This fraud is responsible for destabilizing the global economic system and creating the single greatest threat to our economic prosperity as a nation.

The Gates Seven are Sen. Slade Gor ton (R-Wash.); former Treasury Secre tary Robert Rubin; Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R); two of Microsoft’s former chief financial officers, Mike Brown and Greg Maffei; chief operating officer at Microsoft Bob Herbold; and Myron Scholes, a Nobel Prize winning economist and partner in the Long Term Capital Hedge Fund.

Gorton has marshaled large lobbying groups on Microsoft’s behalf, including the Citizens for a Sound Economy. This group aggressively supports Microsoft—even after receiving numerous versions of my study—and also advocates litigation reforms that would make it much harder to sue a company like Microsoft for financial fraud.

There are some more iffy mergers of lobbying groups happening at the moment. In a perfect world, they should be banned, not joined. It’s an enormously ill system [1, 2.

Web/Standards

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has been spyware for quite time (at least since version 7). Going by the definition of “spyware”, a lot of Microsoft software is indeed spyware (it harvests personal data) and Internet Explorer 8 will
take this a step further

The data Microsoft does collect and record, however, is kept intact for 18 months, twice as long as Google will retain search logs under a new policy announced this week. At the end of the year-and-a-half-long period, Microsoft strips some information, particularly the query string, from the URLs it’s obtained from IE8 users. The query string is the part of a URL that’s passed to Web applications, and often includes a username and password, or other confidential information.

For those who do not keep abreast of IE development, Microsoft has known for quite some time every single page that an IE user visits. It collects people’s browsing history and stores that in remote datacentres, rendering privacy an illusion at best because this data gets shared. This never prevented Microsoft from publicly and legally scolding Google, though.

“Whether through ignorance or active editorial spin the articles claim, wrongly, that VML is another standard.”We previously wrote about Microsoft’s SVG snub. A reader has just sent us some interesting information about it: “There are a number of articles floating around recently criticising Microsoft for being the only web browser-maker that does not support SVG.

“Whether through ignorance or active editorial spin the articles claim, wrongly, that VML is another standard. It is not. Firstly, it’s an Microsoft-only deal. Secondly, it’s not a standard.

“Another point is that SVG can be used to hold JavaScript and thus function to create ‘interactive’ graphics and animations much like Flash or Microsoft’s imitation of Flash.”

Security

This new article from CNET explores the anatomy of botnets, which are believed to comprise around 320 million PCs (mostly Windows, of course).

Lately, though, Storm has been evolving yet again. This time it’s isolating its network further from the general Internet traffic by encrypting packets using an embedded key and simple XOR. It also has been changing its initial infection packing or compression process. The outer layers change every 10 minutes, while the interior bot code changes packing more on the order of once a month. Neither the packing nor the encryption have so far proven defeating to security researchers.

Also worth mentioning is this demo showing the failure of proprietary and Windows-based voting machines. It is a video.

This kind of makes you question the whole e-voting system. I am not suggesting you try this, but I am suggesting you question the reliability of these systems. Are any of these machines safe? Don’t forget to check out the other, equally disturbing, video on the web site.

Links are appended below for more information about this subject.

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2 Comments

  1. AlexH said,

    September 14, 2008 at 8:12 am

    Gravatar

    SJVN should stay away from commenting on operating system internals. If he thinks Linux runs most drivers in user space, he’s pretty badly wrong.

    There are reasons Linux is more stable than Vista for many users, but driver design isn’t one of them.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 14, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Gravatar

    I’ve just found this:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/13/furse_lse_comment/

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