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Tying Their Hands Behind Their Backs

Self-defence on the Mac - is it possible?


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The first editions of Unix were touted for their simplicity. The entire manual fits comfortably in an attaché case, wrote an Australian guru.

Things rapidly progressed. In a few short years the user manuals were monstrous and multi-volume. Yet the system is ultimately simple, insisted Unix co-father Dennis Ritchie, except you have to be a genius to appreciate its simplicity.

Windows isn't complex as much as it's a mess. Yet in terms of complexity Windows is dwarfed by Unix systems of today. And yet Apple - the company making computer systems for 'the rest of them' - want to continue to portray their offerings as simple to use, as things that 'just work'.

And there's nothing wrong with that. And computer systems should be easy to use. And there's nothing wrong either with giving a 'showroom illusion' that a system is easy. A system should be easy.

Until the bad guys come calling. That's when things stop being easy.

It's Falling!

Recurring 'Chicken Little' outbursts of hysteria across the web every time there's an attack on the Mac serve as testimony to ordinary users being ill equipped to deal with dangerous situations.

I guess this will be appearing in all the popular torrented programs until whatever hole(?*) is fixed. *Is this something that apple can fix?

I would like to note that Intego got tagged a few years back for 'discovering' malware 'in the wild' that was actually a proof-of-concept that they themselves created, distributed, and subsequently 'discovered'. So, I take all info from them with a very large grain of salt.

The question should be, is this something Apple would want to fix? Leave a hole and teach people a lesson or fix the hole? My hope is for the latter because the hole puts the honest folk at just as much risk.

As much as we like to have a sense of justice, if there's a an actual security hole, Apple will have to plug it. Who knows how long it will be before it actually shows up in a 'legit' app?

So yes it is user ignornance/trickery but also there are somethings that apple could do to help prevent it, such as making a more open installer so the user can see what files are being installed (yeah I know it is possible and an average user would just assume it is a correct file anyway but it would be nice).

I like it the simple way as it is. But you're right, you good have like two options, the easy and the advanced like some Windows programmes have. But then again, wouldn't the writer of the software declare what he writes there? So he just would hide it from you eyes. An other option would be a log file, of every file that has been copied over during the installation. But would you want to go through that long list every time you install something? And would you check every element, every time?

I fear this kinda nullifies the Mac's inherent no viruses advantage so I'm hoping this doesn't get out of control and proliferate.

I could easily see Microsoft taking advantage of this or the PC dominated media slamming Apple for this and ruining all the good press that Macs have gotten in the last few years

Is there any way of discovering the trojan before you install anything? Just in case this made its way into legit stuff.

Lady Volvo

Swedish automobile giant Volvo made an experimental vehicle for women not long ago. Some women were undoubtedly disparaged. But the car - officially called the 'YCC' or 'Your Concept Car' - was designed by women and for women. The car couldn't be worked on save with dedicated tools only garages would have. If something was wrong - or if you only wanted to fill the petrol tank - you had to get to a petrol station or call a repairman.

The idea was interesting in its own right: a carefree vehicle where the owner doesn't have to worry about 'technical' details (but could worry about other very interesting details). But it was only an experimental vehicle. There were no plans to actually sell it.

The Macintosh computer of today is very much a 'Lady Volvo'. It's fine to make things simple - in fact things should be simple - but what happens when you're all alone stranded on a highway in the middle of the night and no one you call is picking up?

Lady File Viewer

After all the hemming and hawing and booing and whining and talk of 'spatial' nonsense NeXT's 'File Viewer' is today reduced to rubble - the aftermath of a technological disaster where a user cannot even see file permissions properly anymore. And this supposedly in the interests of the user according to what are known in Cupertino as 'user experience engineers'.

The five women who designed the Lady Volvo did a much better job. At least they were realistic.

Wiz-bang jumbojet controls don't have to be visible. But they have to be there. And being able to administer one's own file system is hardly 'advanced' anyway. It's a prerequisite.

There will always be people who are new to the game, who are slow learners, and who consequently need help. What should be given is that when they get this help - from a friend, a relative, a neighbour, or whomever - that there are tools already on the computer to sort things out.

Apple don't have this anymore. They've basically stuck it to their customers. And for no good reason. They're tying their hands behind their backs.

See Also
CBS News: A Volvo By Women, For Women
BBC News: Girl Power softens Volvo's edges
USA Today: Volvo teams up to build what women want

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