Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #67
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See? We Told You So!

Those of you who have our Premium e-book and have read through it (and those who have been subscribers to the free edition over the years) may have noticed there are a lot of references to the evils of spyware (spyware, malware, adware, hijackers, et.al.). At the beginning of 2004 it seemed we were over emphasizing the problem. Many had never even heard of "spyware". We were very aware of it because we receive so many emails from people who were having unexplainable problems with their computers. Spyware is nothing if not proud. Most spyware/adware/malware likes to advertise itself to Web servers by making an entry in the registry so it "tags" the browser with its name. Oh, Spyware, be not proud!  We know a lot of our subscribers we're sighing through issue after issue and wondering why we were making such a fuss over something that seemed so esoteric and unimportant. But, by the end of 2004 it was big news on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, USA Today and other mainstream news sources. Hey, even Bill Gates' home computer was infested. Hmmm..maybe that's why Microsoft is now testing its new AntiSpyware program and has an online anti-spyware community? Looking back it looks like a case of "See? We told you so!". Are we geniuses? Are we Nostradamus reincarnate? Hardly!

Most of you have, by now, heard about Firefox (the 'new' Web browser) that burst upon the scene to a myriad of accolades (mostly from anti-Microsoft folks - which seems to be about everyone lately). If you hearken back to past issues of InfoAve (and some of our Rants too) you'll find that we told you that NO browser will ever be 100% secure. I suppose some of you said "Tsk! Tsk!" when you read that. And, others might have actually believed us. I guess if you want to believe something bad enough, it becomes your truth. But, the truth is the truth; it's not subject to whims and wishes. It is what it is. Now, today, it's January 28, 2005 (DUH!) and what to my bloodshot eyes should appear? Alerts from Secunia.com about Firefox? NO! It can't be. How can anything NOT made by Microsoft have security issues? It can't be. Ah, but the truth shall set you free. As of today there are six unpatched vulnerabilities in Firefox. Nothing but the truth from us to you!

1. Mozilla / Mozilla Firefox Dialog Overlapping Weakness

2. Mozilla / Mozilla Firefox Download Dialog Source Spoofing

3. Mozilla / Mozilla Firefox Window Injection Vulnerability

4. Mozilla / Mozilla Firefox / Camino Tabbed Browsing Vulnerabilities

5. Mozilla / Mozilla Firefox Cross-Domain Cookie Injection Vulnerability

6. Mozilla / Mozilla Firefox Apple Java Plugin Tab Spoofing Vulnerability

Six currently unpatched vulnerabilities (as of 01/28/05) in the "safe" browser. What's the world coming to?

Actually, Firefox is a nice browser and it has some rather nice features. We're not here to slap Firefox around. We're just here to point out that Firefox 1.0 is less than 5 months old and already it has some moderately severe flaws. Yeh, yeh, we know Internet Explorer does too. But, let's see. Internet Explorer has been around a lot longer than 5 months, right? What do you think will happen to Firefox when it's mature and miscreants with nothing better to do than try to ruin nice software have time to find all its areas of vulnerability? What can we say? If you're looking for a software program to protect you, you should go back and read our GOCS rant. When the the world was raving about Firefox we were advising you not to jump in blindfolded. What can say but: "See? We told you so!"

But wait! Were not done yet! We have more to tell you.

We, on several occasions, have mentioned our disgust with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) who provide "spam filtering" for their customers. For they are really doing nothing more than censoring your email. (We're referring to providers who delete email without giving their customers the chance to review it.)  And believe me, there are many who arbitrarily delete customers' emails without notifying their customers. The individual to whom the email was sent has no idea it was ever sent or deleted. This amounts to censorship. Plain and simple.  And, we told you how wrong this was. We knew that sooner or later this type of censorship would end when someone had an important email deleted and sued their Internet Service Provider. It was bound to happen (especially in our litigious society). And now, guess what? It has happened. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We don't believe in frivolous lawsuits but in this case we're on the side of the plaintiffs. Email that is sent to you, is your personal property and your business. It is not the property of your ISP to do with as they please. It might be spam but that's up to you to decide not your Internet Service Provider. This lawsuit will spawn others and ISPs who arbitrarily delete customers' email better heed the warning - the winds of change are blowing. Someday, hopefully soon, ISP's won't be able to censor your email without at least advising you that they are deleting email from your account; and giving you a chance to review it BEFORE they delete it. We're on you're side not the ISPs'. We knew it would come down to this. "See? We told you so!".

What else do we see in our crystal ball? Would you like us to step out on a limb and risk our perfect record (ha! ha!). OK. We will.

Spyware

We don't see spyware going away anytime soon. Even with the increased awareness, spyware isn't going away. Even with all the new anti-spyware programs available, it's not going away folks. What will happen?

1. Spyware will get more insidious. You'll see spyware evolve into even more "intelligent" applications. They'll be able to either disable anti-spyware software from within or mutate themselves continuously to avoid detection. Some spyware programs are already attempting these things;  but far more sophisticated spyware is coming soon to a computer near you. We just hope it's not yours! "There's gold in them thar spywares!" Money, money, money..that's what it's all about.

OR

2. Spyware developers will just come right out and tell you it's spyware but not in those words. It will euphemistically slather over the bad stuff and emphasize the good stuff. And, they're aware that for some reason, people just hate to read stuff. Especially if it looks long and complicated (like most EULAs and Terms of Service Agreements do). They'll bet their businesses that most people won't read the "good stuff". And we bet their right, unfortunately. And, then they know that it's human nature to want to believe in the good in everyone. They'll exploit this. People see what they want to see and disregard the rest. Well written and deceiving information on a spyware company's home page will be the norm. And, it's only getting started. We could point you in the direction of some sites that are already doing this, but then again, in our litigious society we'd be risking our business if we did.

But, we can show you some "adware" that is doing this, already. Take a look at www."Name removed due to threat of lawsuit".com . Read the  "Anti-spyware" statement on the home page and then read their privacy policy and terms of service, and come to your own conclusions. "We report, you decide." We strongly urge you to resist the urge to download anything from "Name removed due to threat of lawsuit" com. Just a word to the wise.

Google

What Microsoft was to the 90's so will Google be to the 2000's. Google is now one of the largest corporations in the world (bigger than Ford and GM combined I think). That means they have gobs of money. Tons of money to invest in new things. And one of the new things will be a new browser. We think by the summer of 2005 you'll see a new browser and it will be called "gBrowser". And, if Google builds it, they will come. The "gBrowser" will pose a very serious threat to Internet Explorer's dominance. Google, has a great reputation, it has become as much of a household word as "Microsoft". Google is very careful to protect its visitors and users' privacy. Their reputation is as close to impeccable as reputations get. A year from now, we might all be using gBrowser. It might happen. If it does, then we can say "We told you so!". If it doesn't we'll be careful not to bring it up :-).

And, there may come a day when instead of booting up and seeing the Windows logo, you might be Googling up. I don't think it's too far fetched to think that Google has aspirations of making an operating system to compete with Windows. They're the only company who has the money, the resources, the motive, and the incentive to do it. And they might. We think they will.  And if they do, ten years from now, Windows will be something you clean or look through to see outside. We can all say: "We don't do Windows" and mean it!  With Google's outstanding reputation and enormous resources they are in a position to dominate like Microsoft has done in the past. And, if this does come to pass, expect to see "Google bashers" abounding.

There is nothing so certain as change and we're certain big changes are on the way. And, Good Lord willing, we'll be around to tell you:  "See? We told you so!"

Tell us what you think! Please

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