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Resources | Remember this when virus hysteria strikes

Bill Gates does not sell antivirus software
Listen to this advice (MP3) If someone blames the spread of a virus on Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting or Microsoft Whatever, ask why antivirus software didn't stop the virus dead in its tracks. Antivirus software fails so often (and so spectacularly) that users buy it with failure in mind.
The Internet itself is the true 'common' threat
Listen to this advice (MP3) If an expert blames Microsoft's ubiquity for the spread of a virus, ask how much more common the world will grow when we standardize on Java or Linux or whatever else comes next. We designed the Internet so diverse networks could communicate with each other. No matter how unique you make yourself, you negate it the instant you hook up to the ultra-common Internet.

If a virus expert blabs about improved security in the next great operating system, ask "why did Java specification v1.1 downgrade its security model?"

If an expert urges you to replace Microsoft products with not-so-common brands, say "a virus must first reach a computer before it can ever hope to infect it. Email offers a superb transmission method no matter what software we use. Thus, we should stop viruses before they enter our email infrastructure." If the expert recommends antivirus software to protect the email infrastructure, say "your desire to replace Microsoft products means you don't trust it enough to stop viruses. Why should we use antivirus software that doesn't protect us?"

'Precautionary disconnects' are illogical and immature
Listen to this advice (MP3) "Panicky expert" may be an oxymoron, but it's an all too common sight in the computer security world. Experts may recommend a "precautionary disconnect" or a "temporary email quarantine" to avoid viruses. If you or your firm pays for an always-on Internet connection, say "we scold children when they flip a light switch on & off. Why should we let you do the same thing to the Internet or to email?"
The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'
Listen to this advice (MP3) Experts will go on TV to declare a virus armageddon. They'll give tear-jerking stories of people or companies who lost everything (because they had no backups). The media will cite 'virus damage cost estimates' from authoritative sources. Yet in the end it will amount to two things: anecdotes and guesstimates.

The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.' Virus experts have not yet developed statistically valid ways to gauge a virus attack -- and virus hysteria has thrived on this simple fact for 15 years.


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