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Trumpet Windows Loudly--- Except When It's Malware Outbreaks

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Ever notice how Microsoft plasters the Windows name on everything it can reach? Splash screens, stickers on computers, and advertising everywhere. There is no escaping it. Except when it's yet another malware outbreak-- then all the news organizations go inexplicably deaf, dumb, and blind, as this latest story demonstrates:

Virus hits nearly 75% of systems on Afghanistan military base.

Is it serious? Well....

"...the intrusion was severe enough to raise the INFOCON status, the information security equivalent of the DEFCON alert, and also necessitate the briefing of the president."

And yet nobody is yelling "Why the heck are they using Windows?"

The tech press goes berserk at every utterance from Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates, and every word emitted by the Redmond PR machine is dutifully repeated and canonized. Except in stories like these. The article is brief and doesn't give much information, and it links to two other lengthier news stories that are just as befuddled.

Only they're not befuddled-- it looks to me like they are deliberately not saying that the affected systems are Windows systems. Check out this clever phrasing:

"Our military is dependent upon commodity desktops whose software shares an enormous amount of DNA with systems that sit on every workplace in the planet."

Now who do you suppose they are referring to? Apple? Ubuntu? AmigaOS? Solaris? FreeBSD?

All three articles make big deals about how soldiers rely on USB sticks to store and transfer data. Let's follow the reasoning here: Windows, by design, welcomes the execution of remote code and provides a broad highway for it right into its own guts. So to meet a known security threat, ban the use of removable media. These are networked computers, so it's a logical move. (Must I use sarcasm tags here?) They also point fingers at Evil Russian and Chinese Hackerz who are possibly deliberately targeting military computers. If they are, they must be shaking their heads in disbelief at having such soft targets. But I'm not so sure it's any kind of targeted attack, because every network administrator on the planet blocks probes and spams from Russia and China every day.

"The invasive software, known as agent.btz, has circulated among nongovernmental U.S. computers for months. But only recently has it affected the Pentagon's networks."

Oho, a clue! Let us see what Google tells us:




Affected operating systems -- Windows

Characteristics-- * Installs itself in the registry

Included in our products from May 2007 (4.17)


I feel so safe, knowing our brave soldiers are protecting us with state-of-the-art technology, and our fine free press are looking out for our interests as well. (Don't make me use sarcasm tags. Kthx.) Minor copyright infringements have been escalated to felonies, people are prosecuted for merely talking about corporate secrets, which inevitably turn out to be stupid and not worth protecting, but nobody is calling Microsoft to account for their porous shoddyware, nor the IT managers foolish enough to deploy it in sensitive environments. Truly we live on Bizarro World.


Update: Personnel eligible for Microsoft Office

"All Army personnel are eligible to receive licensed copies of Microsoft Office desktop applications for use on their home computers under an enterprise licensing arrangement with the software manufacturer."

It appears to be regarded as a benefit, rather than a fifth-column tactic.

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