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Linux.com: Standardize and be Damned

May 08, 2000, 11:44 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Raju Mathur)

"We live in a world of standards. Imagine what life would be like if each manufacturer had her own standard for plugging her appliance into the wall socket. Imagine life without Phillips screws. Standards are a Active Visual Good Thing++ (tm) (C) (pat pending) (maybe I need to stop browsing Microsoft's site?) in general. But not necessarily in computers. Heretical? Maybe. Crazy? Definitely. Read on."

"Take the latest fiasco: the ILOVEYOU virus. A friend sent himself the virus on e-mail and read the same using two clients: a Linux computer with Netscape Messenger and an NT box with Outlook something-or-the-other. Guess which one started behaving funny afterwards? And this one is just the latest in a long history of viruses/trojans which need well-defined and tight environments to run and propagate."

"Not that our friends from Redmond here are the only ones involved. For example, the teardrop, boink and other ping of death attacks were so successful precisely because they exploited a standard: the Internet Protocol (IP, commonly mis-referred to as TCP/IP) stack. Nearly every architecture and operating system (including Linux) running IP was vulnerable. On the other hand, people running old versions of Novell, SNA and DecNET were laughing their guts out, wondering what the whole brouhaha was about. (I presume there are still some of these people alive and kicking.)"

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