Mixed up USA Today security article
There’s an interesting, mixed up Internet security article in USA Today this week. It makes a lot of good points, but in a pretty confused way. Its main gist is that some people add too much security to their (Windows) systems, many people add too little, and a few get it “just right.” The title of the article, which is itself a bit mixed up, is “As far as PC security, Goldilocks got it just right.”
The article starts out poorly by talking about someone who addressed the security issue “with a zeal that would put TV's resident obsessive Monk to shame.” It then goes on to make statements like “he is thinking about adding the Macintosh OS to his Intel-based PC,” which we all know can’t be (legally) done, thus calling into question the rest of the article.
But the article does make some good points, and provide some useful statistics later on. For instance:
  1. ...infectious programs are scouring the Internet, allowing hackers to hijack millions of PCs and turn them into so-called bots [which] heed the orders of cybercrooks to spread spam, phishing e-mail and other nasty things.
  3. If bots don't bite consumers, scores of other digital gremlins just might. They come in the form of virus-infected e-mails, Web pages crawling with contagious computer code or dozens of network worms
Then, however, more confusion: “The dangers have rattled consumers: 94% cite identity theft as a serious problem.” But, as we all know, although it’s related to Internet security, identity theft really is a whole different issue.
Then more good stuff, talking about another clueful user who really seems to have done things the right way, even if he may have included a bit of overkill:
  1. His PCs are barricaded behind a phalanx of DSL routers... The second line of defense is Windows XP's built-in firewall, McAfee's anti-virus software and Windows Defender for malware and spyware removal... [He] also backs up photos, music and important documents to a disk in the event of a security mishap.
And so on. All-in-all, it’s a good thing to at least see such an article in a mainstream publication, even if the article itself isn’t so great. It should at least get people thinking (more).
One final worrisome statistic from the article: “While two-thirds said they kept sensitive financial or health information on their PCs, 56% said they had never heard of phishing”. That’s not good.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006