The Web is Broken: We'll never feel secure

I've been thinking about the security of different OS and I think we have reach a very interesting point in the development of computer systems. If you use a modern Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6, Linux (a recent version like Ubuntu 9.04 or later), or even Windows 7 (or Vista), you'll be reasonably secure without installing anything extra. Yes, I said it, even with Windows 7 you don't have to install an antivirus program, my advice is don't use Internet Explorer, version 8 seems secure but there is no reason to take chances. There are still dangers, phishing scams and malware, you have to be careful with what you install, but the three modern OS ask your permission before installing something, so provided you are careful with what you install and what you click on emails, you are going to be ok. Furthermore, there is no software solution for phishing or for malware that requires installation, so you have to learn this things to be secure anyway.

So, if while the situation is good, the ecosystem and financial motivations are completely wrong for security. Antivirus company and security experts have a vested interest in tell you that there are threats and problems everywhere! Otherwise, you won't need them. Imagine if we did the same in our houses as we do with software. Those Windows? Any kid can broke them with a rock! Those locks? They are trivial to pick! Anyone can get in your house if they want, why do you feel secure? Because security doesn't depend on theoretical vulnerabilities, it depends on experience on real events. When was the last time that there was a big virus contamination? It was years ago! Yes, there are botnets that produce spam, but those are running Windows XP. We have to get rid of XP, but we won't make it, because everybody is going to slam Windows 7 like they did Vista. Specially, those security experts... They can't risk people discovering there are no real world problems anymore.

The Web is Broken: The World is Flat... Except for Copyright

For years we have heard of Globalization, we see the G20 summit protest and we think we know who the friends and enemies of globalization are. But we are wrong. Since they could, massive copyright holders have tried to divide and fraction the world to make it hard to globalize their product. From region coded games and DVDs, to IP controlling.

Take the international Kindle, it is a kludge of fees, so complicated I haven't seen anyone describe it correctly. They charge more for books if you have a non-US Kindle, and the selection is not as big, due to copyright restrictions. They also charge extra network charges (5$ weekly if you want to suscribe to magazines), on top of a 2$ per connection when you are roaming. Part of this issue is Amazon's decision not to do a Wi-Fi Kindle, but instead going to a Mobile Wireless model. The pricing of Mobile Wireless is a mess. But the books are not the same, because copyright is not a global process. So, the same book, in the same language, has different "owners" and fees depending on where you sell it. This is not something the authors want. They would love to have their book available the world over in its original edition for a prize, of which they get the same cut. I understand when you have to translate a book, that involves and added value that you have to cover. But why is a book published in the US forbidden to be sold in the UK? To break the web.

The second example is Netflix. It is a great service. You get one DVD see it and return it. On the mean time you can stream movies from the web. But if you travel you can no longer stream those movies. They check your IP and copyright prevents them to let you see it. Same with Hulu. And the Xbox. Curiously, Amazon and Apple, at least when they sell music, look at the street address of your credit card, instead of your IP, to decide what they can sell you. But most use the IP, in order to break the Web.

You see, the web is different if you live in the US (you get Hulu, Netflix, and a bunch of others), but not Spotify. You only get Spotify in the European web (some restrictions apply). In the rest of the world, what do you get? Mostly piracy. Because despite the false mountains they create the world wide web is still flat and once a content is digital it is easy to copy, and it will get everywhere. If the massive copyright owners don't make it accessible to everyone, somebody else will. For free or cheap in the form of piracy. Is it that the massive copyright holders are stupid or they push for piracy? I already have my answer.

The Web is Broken: Phishing for Gmail

While the Spam problem is pretty much solved by filtering that allows a spam or two a day at the most, phishing is an intractable problem, as this attack on Gmail shows. The reason is that the web is broken. We have three problems: Links that die, lack of a real authentication mechanism for websites, and twitter. The first problem makes it hard to see a coherent history of issues, that is we lack context. The second problem is a real technical problem, we lack context! we could solve this, but I do not think we have the will. Twitter, and other social media, create the lack of will. They make lacking context standar, normal, common. But without context we have nowhere to go, because we don't really know where we are.

Is not that individual technical prowess has diminished, is that the collective will has given out and, with social media being so prevalent, even the loners think they have a social life. I wasted this phrase in twitter long ago: "Social Media is the sad realization that what geeks really wanted was to be liked by jocks and cheerleaders."

Windows 7 Personality test

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