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Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Let slip the dogs of virus war, part 2

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Wednesday, 31 October 2001 As read by the author (MP3) CONGRESS AND THE statecommonwealth of Virginia seem to be fixated on the idea of a "virus war." I'll cover the topic as only I can.
U.S. military planners don't yet recognize their reliance on other countries' antivirus experts. I chalk it up to a shallow strategic vision.
A couple of obvious problems come to mind when you think of a virus war. For one thing, how would you control a virus so it doesn't attack your own computers or those of an ally? Experts beat all of the obvious horses to death years ago, and Congress now beats those dead horses in the experts' absence. 'Nuff said. Instead, let's delve into a topic the virus experts don't bother to discuss. It goes back to the very concept of warfare, where one or more defensive armies struggle against one or more aggressor armies. An aggressor launches an attack — say, against an industrial center — and a defender makes every effort to protect their home turf (or their allies' turf). But guess what? We don't rely on armies to protect our computers from viruses. We hire private security guards to protect our sovereign PCs. You know them as antivirus vendors.

Part 2: nationalize the cartel?

A FORWARD-THINKING government might enact laws to nationalize antivirus firms during a virus war, much like they would nationalize cargo carriers during a physical war. Ironically, the very thought of nationalization might convince an international firm to {ahem} protect its technology assets — especially its brain trust — from exploitation by a nation-state client. Antivirus vendors compete with each other, and Vmyths has documented some brutal competition over the years. If one firm decides to secure its assets from nationalization, it could force other firms to take similar actions strictly as a competitive move. In essence, the antivirus cartel would work against the best interests of one addicted nation-state client so it could continue to profit from all addicted nation-state clients. Only a hundred or so experts truly suppresscontrol the world's antivirus technology, so it shouldn't prove difficult to protect the global brain trust. (Do the math: it works out to roughly two million computers per expert. You can thank the cartel for this.) Some of these experts are Russian citizens, some are pan-Asian citizens, some are U.S. citizens, some are Her Majesty's citizens, some are German citizens, and so on. Some still reside in their mother countries; others live & work abroad. If nationalization looms, the antivirus cartel can protect its entire brain trust by moving just a couple of experts beyond sovereign reach.
"We couldn't afford to choose sides" should pacify the world's antivirus addicts, who often tend to forgive their pushers out of need.
(The U.S. National Command Authority doesn't yet recognize its reliance on other countries' antivirus experts. I chalk it up to a shallow strategic vision. But let's not digress.) Antivirus experts can work from anywhere, you know. The cartel's brain trust resides all over the world simply because the Internet knows no boundaries. We telecommute by definition even when we're at the main office. I myself live & work in Iowa (a large suburb at the edge of Chicago) six miles down the road from an Amish community — and I worked out of a motel room near St. Louis for the last 5 weeks. If I can do my job from arbitrary locations, then so can my colleagues. Non-partisan antivirus firms and non-partisan antivirus experts can easily rationalize their non-partisan maneuvers. "We couldn't afford to choose sides" should pacify the U.S. National Command Authority and other antivirus addicts, at least in the short term. Addicts tend to forgive their pushers out of need, you know.

[continued in part 3]