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FairfaxIT: The Price of Failure

Apr 12, 1999, 07:58 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nathan Cochrane)

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"Two events occurred last week that share a strange paternity - Eric S. Raymond's desire to quit as Open Source prophet and the Microsoft Outlook Melissa virus."

"Although on the surface these two things seem to share little in common, they are both expressions of a central ill that freely available source code seeks to cure. Both are outgrowths of dependence on a single entity, a single point of failure."

"Controversy and Raymond are close bedfellows. From his ardent support of America's gun culture, to verbal stoushes with other advocates in the community, Raymond is like a lightning rod to publicity. Recently he fell out with long time supporter Bruce Perens and has been criticised widely for supporting Apple's open software licence."

"Melissa is a macro Word contained in an e-mail attachment that when executed, copies itself to the first 50 entries in the recipient's Outlook address book. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies around the world have been called in to investigate and find the virus writer responsible."

"But rather than pillory the individual or group involved, we should instead view this as a valuable lesson. Any big, lumbering dinosaur of a monopoly is easy prey for small, fast predators."

"In the case of Outlook clients, ever since Windows 95, they have been shoehorned onto the desktops of most new PCs around the world. This makes it an attractive target for hackers."

"But what else in your network falls into this category?"

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