Thank heavens for good virus writers

I can't be the only one who finds that packaged software products rarely do what they say on the box.

I can't be the only one who finds that packaged software products rarely do what they say on the box.

I appreciate that designers cannot accurately predict every possible way software could be used. But, while the industry covers itself legally by giving no guarantees that products will work as expected, undocumented features or, more precisely, bugs, are not phenomena we should have to live with, irrespective of what the waiver says on our software licences.

Of course, there are some software products developed with incredible care and diligence: software failure in a safety-critical system can lead to injury or loss of life. As far as I know, failure in a commercial software product has not yet caused an injury or death.

However, every day users leave work feeling let down by the poor quality of their IT. They may hold a grudge against the helpdesk staff, who they perceive to be a faceless voicemail service that never gets around to returning their calls.

Last weekend, IT staff across the UK were called in to combat the Slammer worm that affected SQL Server. And, let's face it, this is not a good way for IT managers to prove that technology can support and drive business development.

If only someone would stand up to the mighty software makers.

Last year, French car manufacturer Peugeot was named and shamed on British TV for the poor quality of its door locks.

Apparently it took a thief just seconds to open the boot. Soon after the broadcast, Peugeot set up a help line for customers of the particular model affected and refitted more secure locks.

This situation would not have come to light had it not been for the broadcast of the security flaw to millions of UK television viewers, leaving Peugeot hugely embarrassed.

There is an analogy in the software world. Thank heavens we have talented virus writers, because without them the software industry would have no incentive to improve the security within its products. And as security improves, so too does software quality.

IT departments wrestle with Slammer worm >>

Slammer: To patch or not to patch? >>

Read more on Antivirus, firewall and IDS products

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