The recent attack by the Love Bug virus brought organisations across the globe to their knees, in some cases for many hours, or even days. The cost of the havoc it wreaked is estimated to be around $10bn (£6.25bn).
Basil Cousins, founder technical chairman of the X/OPEN Group, believes that in a world where Linux was the dominant system, the problem would not have been nearly as grave.
"I suggest that we assemble and analyse all the real evidence about the damage - operating environment by operating environment," he says. "We will find a curious imbalance - very little to none in the Unix/Linux community, and a huge mountain in the 'other community'."
In contrast to what Cousins refers to as the "other community", he says, "The Unix/Linux community has traditionally been peopled by those responsible for the integrity of entire business-critical corporate systems. They are all too well aware of the commercial and legal exposures and opt for security and integrity."
Cousins mourns the passing of the days when the Government was a staunch supporter of open systems.
"Wisely or unwisely, the British Government is committed to the other IT infrastructure and applications," he says. Tthis could be bad news for us all, Cousins warns.
Cousins sees viruses as a form of cancer and, as with human cancer, he believes virus attacks slip quickly into the unspoken zone.
He fears that the cost to the taxpayer of this silence zone could be awesome and unnecessary, given that, in his opinion, an alternative solution already exists that is more mature, cost-effective and secure.
"Over the past nine years, Linux has become a stable, highly respected platform, one that is not susceptible to virus attacks and upon which organisations of whatever size can build with confidence," says Cousins.
He says it is time to end what he calls "the reign of silence".
"Let's hear in the open the full extent of the damage wrought by the arsonists of the IT world. Let's openly compare the different regimes. The world needs to know how much revenue and profit the other environment makes in the UK. Is the vast expenditure of countering viruses a justifiable charge on the public purse?"
Basil Cousins, founder and technical chairman of the X/OPEN Group
This was first published in June 2000