Will Microsoft kill the security sector?

First people wondered whether the “enhanced security” of Windows Vista would plunder the multi-billion dollar computer security market. The talk there has quieted, as there is really no telling when the software might be released (and since you need a quad processor with 8 gigs of ram to run it, the uptake won’t be quick when it does).

So lets point the finger at the Microsoft OneCare program, and see if it raises any ire. Can it kill the Symantecs and McAfees of the world?

Alex Eckelberry seems to think so, but not because he is unconfident about his own Sunbelt products. Mr. Eckelberry thinks predatory pricing for Microsoft OneCare is the issue.

My notion is this: as long as folks are running Windows, viruses and spyware are going to run rampant. And as long as pests persist, security firms have a business model. As much as Microsoft wants to be in the security business, the more they push it the more people are going to wonder why the company is selling security protection for their own operating systems. In other words, I think there is going to be some level of rebellion at the notion.

If everyone ran Linux or OS X, security firms would have something to worry about.


Victor Godinez of the Dallas Morning News says using Microsoft OneCare is like “asking the fox to guard the henhouse.” I concur.


e says:

The argument that unix and mac operating systems are more secure because they are better designed is a fallacy as old as the hills.
What makes them more secure is the lack of their commercial appeal. Yhe virus writers and the people who spend hours hacking away at every element of the operating system aren’t going to focus their attention on a subset of a subset of unix, they are going to focus their attention on the big prize, the operating system used in over 80% of home computers world wide. Look at the 2003 vulnerability in sendmail, it hadn’t been discovered not because it was any harder to find than one of windows flaws but simply because people just weren’t looking. If everyone switched to alternatives then the virus protection market for macos and unix would increase a thousandfold overnight.

While there are some that would disagree with your first notion, so be it. But, some points to consider:

1) if everyone started using Linux and OS X (or another UNIX flavor), hackers would still have to focus their attention on a subset of a subset of UNIX;

2) as long as Windows needs to be all things to all people, they are still going to have to deal with a myriad of devices/drivers/processes that they don’t have complete control over;

…freewheeling administrative access and executable embedding in registries aside, which are design issues, are they not?

Of course, I still have to wonder, with all the Linux/UNIX flavored servers running in the world, why they aren’t getting blown to bits every day. Or are they, and sys admins either aren’t paying attention or are too embarrassed to disclose it? I suspect there are a lot of sysadmins that would be insulted by either notion.

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