Letters to Redmond

October Reader Letters: Security Slipup

Is the cloud the next step to propel security to the future? Readers chime in with their thoughts.

In his September Barney's Rubble column, "Security Stalemate," Editor in Chief Doug Barney wrote: "The only [security] game-changer could be the cloud. Google just sent me a Chromebook. This thing is all Web. I'm not sure what I think so far, but I do know there are no Windows DLLs, so there's no malware." Redmond readers had a lot to say in response.

I hope Barney understands that malware isn't limited to Windows technology. Damaging viruses can hit any OS. For example, look at the mess with the Mac and all the bad stuff that came in via Java applets -- and not a Windows DLL in sight.

Sure, Windows has always been a more-likely target due to its popularity. And it has historically been more vulnerable due to Microsoft's naivet é with the Web earlier in Windows history -- a reputation Microsoft is still fighting, even though it's not nearly as deserved as it was in the past.

But malware is malware, regardless of the underlying technology.

Pasadena, Calif.

Eventually, as the computing climate changes, so will the targets of the attacks. As Microsoft hardened Windows, attacks moved toward more-vulnerable targets. (I got a Flash and a JavaScript update this week.) It's the never-ending electronic counter-measures game. Bad guys find a vulnerability and attack it ... good guys fix it ... bad guys look for a new vulnerability. Like the shampoo bottle says: "Lather, rinse, repeat."

New York

On the client end, poor passwords, unlocked screens, insecurely configured Wi-Fi connections, lost machines, Phishing scams and physical attacks will work just the same as before.

On the server end ... oh my! With both external and internal hacks on the menu -- malicious or even bribed insider employees, for an example of the latter -- it's just a matter of time. And when that time comes, everyone who trusts that compromised cloud to "protect" them will pay dearly, all at once.

Paul Williams
Houston, Texas

Windows 8 Worries
In her September Foley on Microsoft column, "Microsoft's Biggest Risk: Leading, Not Following," Mary Jo Foley wrote: "Microsoft's toughest task with Windows 8 is to not get too far ahead of users." But many readers already feel left behind by Windows 8.

As a consumer, I prefer to be welcomed into a new environment, not forced. Certainly, Windows 8 is going to be fine for new tablets. But it escapes me as to why Microsoft is abandoning -- or punishing -- those who want to use Windows 8 on the desktop.

In the past, Windows was highly configurable by the end user. Now, we're in a straightjacket that requires third-party tools to recover traditional ease-of-use features such as the Start button. The same hard-line trend is showing up in application UIs. Somebody decided that new apps like Visual Studio would be monochrome, gradient-free and lackluster. Where's the win for Microsoft in not allowing users to implement a drop shadow if they like it? What's so bad about choice? I just don't recall Microsoft being this coercive in the past, and it truly baffles me.

Ken Cox
Posted Online

All the Windows 8 fan boys say: "It's easy, you just have to learn these 42 new keystrokes and gestures and concepts, like charms." People who are just trying to use the computer as a tool don't want to do that.


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This page is compiled by the editors of Redmond magazine from your letters. Write to us at [email protected] and if your letter is printed in the magazine, you'll be entered into a drawing for a free Redmond T-shirt.


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