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04.21.10

Journalists to Other Journalists: Call Out Windows

Posted in Apple, Security, Windows at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Annual report by Microsoft

Summary: Microsoft continues to receive a free ticket when its long-neglected flaws lead to chaos, whereas when other platforms are affected, then they are named and shamed

LAST MONTH we announced the "Call Out Windows" campaign. We ought to set up a section for this, somewhere alongside existing campaigns (one of which is “Boycott Novell”). Today we have the editor of Linux Today slagging off reporters for refusing to name Windows as the culprit in a variety of articles about Windows-only problems. In summary she writes:

But Vista was released in Jan. 2007, and Windows 7 was released October 2009, and they’re supposed to be all more secure. Sure, there is still a huge legacy Windows base…but when you read malware definitions you quickly learn that the malware don’t care, all Windows are equally tasty.

This type of reporting is little more than propaganda. The goal is to convey the same message over and over: Cybercrime is entirely the fault of cybercriminals and careless users. Malware targets all PCs, that’s just the way it is and it’s nobody’s fault, except criminals and careless users. But this is pure baloney: The porous nature of Windows, and the entire Microsoft software stack, is the problem. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

What would it be like if Linux, or any real multi-user networking operating system with a sane design, were the standard operating system? I bet money we would not have tens of millions of Linux PCs in botnets, even with a large population of unsophisticated users. No botnets pumping out phishes, spam, and malware, no drive-by infections from merely visiting infected Web sites, no getting cooties from simply having an infected email or document on your system without even opening it, no viruses or worms spreading to millions of other computers in an eyeblink. It takes special talent and OS architecture to make those things possible.

The irony of it all is that when a worm targets Mac OS X, then every single journalist will name “Apple” or “Mac”. When it’s a Windows problem (as it happens to be well over 95% of the time), then it’s just a “computer problem”, or “computer virus”, or “virus” for short.

It is time to call out Windows.

In other but similar news today, Glyn Moody points to this article and says: “poor journalism: no mention of Windows, again” (i.e. more of the same).

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

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5 Comments

  1. your_friend said,

    April 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Gravatar

    Thank you Carla for Calling out Windows.

  2. BrownieBoy said,

    April 21, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Gravatar

    Right on cue, here’s yet another virus article from the MSBBC, which fails to mention that only Windows PCs are at risk:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8634356.stm

    I’ve already complained via their online form. I imagine that I’ll get the same brush off as last time.

  3. Dr. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 22, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Gravatar

    @BrownieBoy

    I had exactly this article ready for scrutiny today. I found it last night. They wouldn’t write “computer users” if it only affected Mac users. I reckon that Maggie wrote it.

  4. BrownieBoy said,

    April 27, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Gravatar

    Well now, how about this from the BBC?

    “Thank you for your e-mail to the BBC News website and for pointing out
    the oversight in the story.

    It has now been updated to say that the Zeus virus only targets Windows
    machines. As you rightly say, this should have been in the original
    copy. Your e-mail will be passed on to the reporter.

    Thank you again for highlighting this error.”

    I’ve just checked it, and yes, it does now say “Windows”.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The hope is that after a while they won’t need reminders.

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