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Submission + - Is Phoning Home Killing Our Computers?

Bones3D_mac writes: As a Mac user, I've been spared much of the headache of viruses and other nasty surprises most PC users have been dealing with on a daily basis. Lately though, I've been looking into the windows side of things to expand my available toolsets, such as tablet laptops for things like photoshop and lightweight 3D modeling work.

The problem, however, is how do I keep a mission-critical system like this safe when the applications being used on it require an internet connection to phone home? Obviously, having no external connections would do a lot to prevent anything from causing damage to the data stored on the system. But it seems that it's become increasingly difficult to keep the internet out of the equation when it comes to the more expensive software.

Should commercial developers be considering other methods of preventing piracy besides just phoning home? Or should we start holding them responsible for making our mission-critical systems needlessly vulnerable due to their software's requirement that an internet connect always be present?

Comment Your post advocates a.... (Score 5, Funny) 296

Your post advocates a

(x) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(x) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
(x) Asshats
(x) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
(x) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
(x) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!


Submission + - 22,000 names and SSNs stolen at the U. of Missouri

Ardeaem writes: "The University of Missouri is reporting that a security breach has allowed over 22,000 names and social security numbers to be stolen. It appears that an insecure application is to blame; used by the help desk to track issues, the application allowed the retrieval of names and SSNs. The "hacker" simply used the application to get the SSNs one by one. Of course, if the person's name is known, getting more information about them is possible through the school's directory, enabling the "hackers" to possibly compile a disturbing amount of information about each person. Why do organizations still use SSNs for identification, and can they be held liable for it? When will they learn?"

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The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."