I review a lot of security products and have quite a few opinions about how we should be fighting malware. One of the things that sickens me is reading articles like the one that ran in the NY Times a few days ago. Besides that fact that I’ve been saying “Internet security is broken” for about 3 years now, the picture that John Markoff paints is one where the security community is pitifully outgunned and it is clear to anyone who knows anything about security that the battle is over and the criminals have won. That’s it, everyone off the Internet.
I admit the story does a great job of frightening people. The statistics are solid. And yet, there is no concrete advice or truly useful information in the story at all. This is really the kind of story that should’ve run years ago. To me, it’s a waste of time to present a picture of how unsafe the Internet is and not offer a single bit of useful information. I guess this is like reporting on crime statistics and not providing any information about how to stay physically safe.
There’s nothing in the story about how security companies are responding to the changing threat landscape. It upsets me to read stories like this because they do a disservice to readers and to real experts. Apparently security companies are just beginning to rethink the way antimalware solutions work. Hmm. That makes little sense to me, especially because I actually know what I’m talking about and there are many innovative security companies which began to rethink their approach 3-4 years ago.
This is sort of commentary on top of commentary. In a way, I guess any news about malware that might scare people into protecting themselves is good. However, I feel very strongly that telling half the story is simply irresponsible. But then again, that’s the difference between news and expert opinion or a product review. It’s not about providing useful information, it is just about creating sensational fear to drive traffic to your website or increase paper sales. A positive step might be to follow the article designed to project fear and demise up with an article about how to protect yourself, or maybe even some links to other articles that could teach you how to protect yourself. It’s like give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for life. I want to teach you how to fish. John Markoff wants to tell you the weather report.