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Desktop Security

August 22nd, 2003 · 2 Comments

AlwaysOn Network has an article by Jonathan Schwartz, Sun’s EVP of software:

With the MSBlast worm wending its way across corporate America, one view, seemingly held by intelligence agencies and military units around the world, is that the lack of genetic diversity on the desktop is a threat to national security. A single virus could not only cripple the operation of desktops across the country – but in so doing, it could leave those in a position to study and resolve such problems incapable of providing a remedy. If the doctors have a virus, they’re not much good to the patients. In the instance of MSBlast, if the virus itself attacks the target’s ability to be patched or vaccinated – look no further, we just found Saddam’s weapons of mass
destruction.

For the most part, the industry has ignored this issue – it’s been a running joke. Sure, Microsoft Windows has some issues, but it’s a lot easier to continue deploying it than worry about genetic diversity. Forgive and forget. If you move to a new model, you might have to train the user that a home directory named “My Computer” on Windows has been renamed “This Computer” on the alternative. But now it’s not so funny. The cost of patching, upgrading, and managing the complexity of MSBlast, alone, exceeds any potential cost of retraining a user to expect a new color scheme.

This is the ideal argument for Linux and the thin-client computing paradigm. In our company, wehave been completely free of viruses for the past 15 months since we’ve been using our own Linux thin client solution (Emergic Freedom). To counter spam, we use SpamAssassin. Administration of the entire network is also easier, since only the server needs to be managed. This is the concept we are trying to propagate among companies in India, but its been an uphill struggle. Most desktop software is pirated so we are still seen as more expensive and there is a mental block against anything non-Windows. That is the challenge for us – how to make our solution win in this context.

Tags: Software

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