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Dorian's Corner - Commentaries / Opinions

Cybersecurity Improved

Feuds with Microsoft® are common with me. Sometimes I even write them open letters. They do some really good things, such as upgrading people for free to Windows 10, a good move. But I've had severe criticisms of them at times. I don't like their architecture.

They should use the same isolation of your computer from the Internet as they do on your own network. But isolation conflicts with maximizing operational convenience, and staying compatible with several generations of older computer programs. They have a difficult task.

I'm at the beginning of taking a few days off to explore some personal interests. One of them is cybersecurity. To me it is categorically unbelievable that our government, and large and small companies, expose consumer private information, and defense and other secrets to hackers and foreign governments.

In the military we had a saying: “We guard the American public from our secrets. Our enemies already know them.” We found paper from our cryptography site being used on the street for potato chip wrappers.

One day there was a mad scramble to find our cryptography machine. It was finally located in a closet under a blanket where someone most likely brought it back – oldest trick in the book.

Together with a credit card company, I helped develop more secure credit card processing code. I developed a Web site that couldn't be hacked for personal information. It had higher than bank level security. This isn't my typical line of work. If I can do it, why can't they?

Why? Lackadaisical attitudes, budget restrictions, and priorities. One defense research company lost decades of information to hackers. They simply couldn't be bothered with updating their computers. Want to start defense research all over? Sure – big money for someone.

The Democratic headquarters got hacked. Update your servers! I don't have any confidence that government type people can keep any information secure. It isn't a priority. The government is reactive to threats, not proactive.

As long as people have commercial computer operating systems, which are constantly changing, they will most likely have systems that can be hacked. Those who sell protective software lust after endless market need, and they have it in spades. It's an ongoing game of chase.

Late this year Microsoft created an update for their Windows 10 operating system that prevents ransomware from working, and only authorized applications can update files. That's huge. It is a major step forward.

Microsoft's Windows Defender antivirus and malicious software tool ranks around 99% in effectiveness, as well or better than most similar programs, and it doesn't slow down your system, which is huge.

So go buy a Mac or the latest Linux. Well, had to get their names in there, too. Equal time.