Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th May 2017 16:18 UTC

Friday saw the largest global ransomware attack in internet history, and the world did not handle it well. We're only beginning to calculate the damage inflicted by the WannaCry program - in both dollars and lives lost from hospital downtime - but at the same time, we're also calculating blame.

There's a long list of parties responsible, including the criminals, the NSA, and the victims themselves - but the most controversial has been Microsoft itself. The attack exploited a Windows networking protocol to spread within networks, and while Microsoft released a patch nearly two months ago, it’s become painfully clear that patch didn’t reach all users. Microsoft was following the best practices for security and still left hundreds of thousands of computers vulnerable, with dire consequences. Was it good enough?

If you're still running Windows XP today and you do not pay for Microsoft's extended support, the blame for this whole thing rests solely on your shoulders - whether that be an individual still running a Windows XP production machine at home, the IT manager of a company cutting costs, or the Conservative British government purposefully underfunding the NHS with the end goal of having it collapse in on itself because they think the American healthcare model is something to aspire to.

You can pay Microsoft for support, upgrade to a secure version of Windows, or switch to a supported Linux distribution. If any one of those mean you have to fix, upgrade, or rewrite your internal software - well, deal with it, that's an investment you have to make that is part of running your business in a responsible, long-term manner. Let this attack be a lesson.

Nobody bats an eye at the idea of taking maintenance costs into account when you plan on buying a car. Tyres, oil, cleaning, scheduled check-ups, malfunctions - they're all accepted yearly expenses we all take into consideration when we visit the car dealer for either a new or a used car.

Computers are no different - they're not perfect magic boxes that never need any maintenance. Like cars, they must be cared for, maintained, upgraded, and fixed. Sometimes, such expenses are low - an oil change, new windscreen wiper rubbers. Sometimes, they are pretty expensive, such as a full tyre change and wheel alignment. And yes, after a number of years, it will be time to replace that car with a different one because the yearly maintenance costs are too high.

Computers are no different.

So no, Microsoft is not to blame for this attack. They patched this security issue two months ago, and had you been running Windows 7 (later versions were not affected) with automatic updates (as you damn well should) you would've been completely safe. Everyone else still on Windows XP without paying for extended support, or even worse, people who turn automatic updates off who was affected by this attack?

I shed no tears for you. It's your own fault.

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RE[2]: Blame List
by Brendan on Tue 16th May 2017 00:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Blame List"
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"b) People like Thom that make excuses for software developers that fail to release secure products.

But... But they fixed it two months ago?

There was a critical vulnerability in every version of Windows for a decade because Microsoft released insecure products that should never have needed to be updated in the first place.

An unknown number of people who should never have needed to update got affected by insecure products before the update existed without ever knowing they've been affected.

A huge number of people who should never have needed to update know they were affected after the update existed.

A huge number of people who should never have needed to update can't update and are still at risk.

Microsoft will not be compensating anyone that has been affected for damages that their faulty software has allowed.

Microsoft will not be reimbursing anyone that has paid for faulty software.

Microsoft will not be apologizing to anyone that has been affected or will be affected.

Microsoft won't be changing any of their practices (doing a full security audit, hiring a new security team, etc).

The developers that created the security vulnerabilities, and the quality assurance testers that failed to notice the vulnerabilities before each version of Windows was released, probably won't even get a "stern warning" and will probably be allowed to continue creating more security vulnerabilities in future Microsoft products.

Nothing that actually matters will change, it'll just be a yet another slightly different vulnerability next week, and the week after that, and ...

The reason nothing that actually matters will change is that stupid people think all of this is acceptable. There's no incentive whatsoever for Microsoft to do anything to prevent vulnerabilities.

This is not just Microsoft, it's "most" software developers. It's an entire industry where incompetence and negligence is standard practice.

Note that people who install updates are victims too - if 1 billion people spend an average of 6 minutes of their time each month installing updates and their time is worth an average of $10/hour; then that adds up to a total cost of $72,000,000,000 per year just to install updates for dodgy crap that should never have needed to be updated (and that's not including costs of anti-virus subscriptions, bandwidth consumed, etc).

- Brendan

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