Windows security is a 'myth', claims Linux Community Member

Posted by PaulFerris on Jan 31, 2005 4:06 AM
LXer; By Paul (FeriCyde) Ferris

A senior Linux community member, speaking exclusively to LXer.com, has dismissed Windows' reputation as a secure platform as a "myth", claiming that the proprietary development process, coupled with a lack of corporate accountability creates fundamental security problems.

Paul Ferris, an IT professional with over a decade of experience using both Windows and Linux platforms said that the myths surrounding the proprietary operating system are rapidly being exploded, and that customers are leaving the Windows platform for free and other proprietary platforms in droves due to it's overly complex nature and lack of mission-critical security.

"The biggest challenge we need to face centers on the myth and reality. There are lots of myths out there as to what Windows can do. One myth we hear all the time from Microsoft executives and public relations shills is that Windows is more secure than Linux. Another is that there are no viruses for Windows," snorted Ferris. "But that one is easy to disprove." he continued. "Simply hook a Windows box to a broadband Internet connection without a firewall for less than an hour, and odds are, it'll become infected within minutes..

"Who is accountable for the security of the Windows operating system? Does Microsoft, for example, take responsibility? It often doesn't -- as a matter of fact, they're making more money recently selling their own anti-virus and spyware removal tools. Talk about short-selling the customer. They sell a shoddy product at one of the highest aquisition costs in the industry, and then they make money on the process that cleans up the mess." Explained Ferris.

"In the Free Software space, users are confident that the community will take responsibility for security patches, and if not, even they themselves can examine the code, not having to be dependent upon one proprietary vendor to supply the fix. They know that they will get their upgrades and patches in a timely fashion."

Ferris went on to claim that another Windows myth centers on the myth that you need a huge complex kernel to get anything meaningful done in a computing environment. In the Free Software world, things are much more theoretically pure, making the securing of the software easier.

"There a myth in the market that you need an army of thousands of programmers located mostly in one geographic location on the planet, coding away like minions to produce a useful product. Linux destroys that myth -- there are programmers located all over the globe that work using the open protocols of the Internet to produce software products that are extensible and easily patched, upgraded and ported to new systems. It's a beautiful thing, actually." he gushed.

"Maybe someday Microsoft products will be based upon more extensible, portable software like the GNU project produces. As of today, to make a windows system more secure and help prevent common exploits, you have to patch it with Free Software like the FireFox web browser. Surfing the web with a browser like IE that allows proprietary insecure protocols like ActiveX is akin to walking down a dark alley with 100 dollar bills hanging out of your pockets." he further warned.

Ferris then argued that Linux marketshare (often a subject of intense scrutiny by Microsoft shills and executives) had very little bearing on it's theoritical security model. "Users of an operating system that are concerned about security should do some simple research to find out how safe it is." he opined. "Maybe just ask a few Windows users how often they get viruses, worms, trojan horses and spyware."

He then added that Windows users that didn't know if they had things like that should probably be educated as to what those items were. "People are often infected and don't even know it."

The credibility of Windows in the enterprise has been suffering for years, and is showing no signs of abatement, according to Ferris, as companies examine their shrinking bottom line and look for simple ways to cut costs and tighten security at the same time.

"A lot of customers have grown tired of the price increases that Microsoft demand -- often for software they have already purchased prior. On top of that, managing a Windows network, especially an enterprise class network can be a nightmare from a security perspective. Patches are constantly being issued for extremely severe vulnerabilities. Simple software updates can easily break the core functionality of the complex and proprietary underpinnings of the operating system. It's a jungle out there in Microsoft land, and customers are tired of it."

"Microsoft has been failing the enterprise for mission-critical computing for years. There are fundamental things missing. For example, there is little adherance to open protocols and development languages. With Linux there tends to be better interoperability between it and all other systems -- Microsoft included. Microsoft has one goal: To get their customers to buy more Microsoft products. They use phrases like "Embrace and Extend" and "Leverage" to describe their customers' choices. Customers like choice, and the heavy handed tactics of a monopolistic organization can do serious damage to a companies bottom line, as choices are removed from the marketplace."


Paul Ferris has been making a mockery of Microsoft's many marketing mistakes for the better part of 5 years now. You can find his musings on the community-based web site LXer.com. Any resemblance between this article and recent musing by Nick McGrath, behind of platform strategy for Microsoft in the UK, is a crying shame...

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Good one, Paul! DaGoodBoy 2 1,993 Jan 31, 2005 4:48 PM
Not quite that simple... dinotrac 16 2,408 Jan 31, 2005 2:47 PM

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