Congress members frustrated with computer viruses wonder how to protect public

“Members of Congress expressed frustration Wednesday over the exploding problems caused by malicious worms and viruses and asked whether additional laws and criminal prosecutions are necessary to protect the public,” Declan McCullagh for CNET News.com.

McCullagh reports, “Rep. Adam Putnam, the chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees government use of technology, suggested at a hearing that the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI are not doing enough to identify and prosecute those responsible for the havoc caused by viruses such as the MSBlast worm, also known as Blaster and Lovsan.”

“‘There are hundreds of viruses released every year…but you can only recall two arrests, two convictions, two jail times?’ Putnam asked a Justice Department official. ‘Now I ask, ‘What’s the source of the threat? Is it foreign or domestic?’ Well, we really don’t know,'” McCullagh reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Congress should be asking whether homogenous or heterogenous platform environments are a better choice for safety and minimizing disruptions. Congress should also be examining what it is about Windows that makes it susceptible to viruses and worms along with finding and prosecuting virus writers. We would also suggest that Congress examine why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded a five-year, $90 million enterprise agreement to Microsoft Corp to become the department’s primary technology provider (more info) when two weeks later, the same U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Windows was vulnerable to attack (more info).

Readers interesting in offering their suggestions to Rep. Adam Putnam, the chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees government use of technology can send a message to him via his website.

19 Comments

  1. Send your own letters to your congressman, or to Adam!! Cut and paste if necessary from below.

    ————-

    Dear Sir:

    thank you for your efforts towards more secure computer software. As you well know, computers have now become critical parts of our daily lives. With computers controlling so much of our infrastructure, it is a surprise to me that software manufacturers are not held to the same accountability as car, appliance, or even aircraft makers. The billions of dollars lost due to computer viruses should be recouped from the software manufacturers who continue to release “swiss-cheese” software. If, as the Microsoft representative testified, viruses are more prevalent on Windows solely because of its popularity, then clearly the case must be made for a diversified computing platform. Like the bleak future for bananas, our standarization on one “breed” may have made certain things easier, but has also significantly increased our vulnerability. However, software is not “intrinsically” vulnerable. Despite Microsoft’s claim, other, more “modern” software are tremendously more secure, reliable, and accessible, than Microsoft’s 30 – year long patch of software designed in the 70’s. (Let us not forget the year 2000 fiasco. That was the most obvious artifact, but not the only one by any means.) In three years, Microsoft may introduce their “next generation” Longhorn software. Possibly, it will be more secure and robust. However, how many more billions of dollars must be lost until then? Worse, there is no guarantee of improvement.

    May I suggest:

    1. computing platform diversity – like creating mixed “breeds” so one virus does not wipe us out, or disable our Navy ships as happened a few years ago.
    2. specify “modernized” software with proven track record.
    3. launch class action lawsuits against the software manufacturers who release patently vulnerable code. As with many things American, only the threat of litigation brings out the best and most carefully thought out.

    Thank you for your consideration. I only wish my own congressman thought of addressing this issue.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Su

  2. Why is it we feel the need to protect stupid people? Do we want to spend tax dollars going after these kids who write viruses? Install regular updates and don’t run software from people you don’t know. End of problem!

    I live in a country where I am free to choose my own software and OS. I don’t want any government telling me otherwise, and I certainly don’t want the government dictating how I should write my software!

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