third parties catch Microsoft fallout
August 26, 2003

Well it's just under three years since I wrote my first article denouncing Microsoft for their shoddy code which allowed viruses such as I Love You to propagate.

Nothing has changed....

Except now, the damage from viruses is worse.

Three years ago I advocated suing Microsoft in a class action. Since then various pundits have suggested that because I assented to their "as is" license when I installed the product, I have no recourse.

Current viruses such as Sobig-F do not require me to sign a license before filling my inbox.

I have never used Outlook Express on my own computer. Admittedly I do run a Windows machine - but that's not the point. I could be checking my mail on a C64 emulator under Linux and I would still get a filled inbox from Sobig.

The poor code that is Outlook Express is effectively a weapon, provided by Microsoft to the black-hat community for the purposes of bullying everybody else, whether they run M$ wares or not.

But it's not just Sobig that's clogging my hypothetical C64 emulator. It's spam. Each time an email-based virus goes around, it collects up email addresses and circulates them. The email address of Little Johnny - who is driven to and from school each day, has several "cyber-nannies", is fed three square meals a day and who is in bed by 7:30 sharp - has now been plastered all over the internet. And not just a little bit. Indeed, Microsoft software makes it possible for third parties to think that Little Johnny has sent them a copy of a virus.

If that third party turns out to be an unscrupulous operator, woe betide Little Johnny now. He can expect ads for Viagra, penis enlargement, and labial gel to bombard his inbox in the very near future.

Sadly, this is only the first iteration of a process which can continue indefinitely, as Little Johnny's address ends up in various logfiles, inboxes, outboxes, mailing lists, contact lists, and address books. Eventually, it will make its way onto lists which are traded or sold on CD-ROM. No matter how hard Little Johnny's parents have tried, his address is Out There with the Spammers.

How? Microsoft.

If a jumbo jet malfunctions and falls on a school, the aircraft manufacturer is gonna pay.

I don't see the difference here.

There's no need to assent to a license. Innocent bystanders have suffered, and will continue to suffer, substantial losses.

I now widen my assertion of three years ago to suggest that not only is operating Microsoft software bad for business, but it also makes you party to the continuing flood of spam and viruses which plague everybody. It's not just lazy or ignorant - it makes you a leper. And you're infecting Little Johnny.