Saturday, September 24, 2005

Internet Security

I have been reading a lot of web-news articles about how microsoft is taking security seriously with it's new Windows Vista operating system. You will pardon me if I chuckle. The principle reason that windows is not secure is because it started life as a DOS entity. DOS was, at the later stages of it's development, entirely centered around simplifying the user experience. As Windows came to be built on DOS it had the same goal. That wasn't a problem in the early days, as security was not as great a concern. Even when Windows left DOS with the 2000 and XP editions, it was forced to maintain that focus even as security issues mounted.
The reason Windows was made so vulnerable to virus and spyware infection is because every account is an administrative account. Only with a serious amount of work can this be undone, and then the undoing will make most of your programs lose function or not function at all. For the non-geeks, it is bad to have an administative install default because that means every virus and spybot then has administrative authority. MacOS, Linux, and other UNIX based operating systems do not share this, and are much more secure because of that lack of a constant administrative account.
Why would Microsoft maintain such a flawed system? Simple economics, changing it will make installing all existing software impossible. And Microsoft is not prepared to "start over" and launch an OS with minimal third party software available for it. The best it will try to do is to make use of an emulator that will mimic the more secure environments of the UNIX based systems. No amount of pretend security will ever make Windows a secure operating system. Windows is flawed by it's own core structure, until that is changed Windows will be very vulnerable to every virus or bit of spyware that can find a hole to get in. Thats why I had to laugh. Windows Vista's security being taken seriously is a lot like taking the gun away from a man about to shoot himself and handing him a different gun. He will still get shot.