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June 19, 2006

on busine$$ practices

Imagine you are a huge software manufacturer and you're looking for a foolproof way to get people to stop using the old versions of your software. Rather than just cut off support for the product, which wouldn't really convince the majority of users to convert to your new version of the software, why not unleash a virus that would threaten to render the users' machines useless unless they convert to the new version of the software? I mean, after all, most virus-creators are never caught anyway, so where's the risk?

The copy for the advisory would write itself: Those using older versions of the software are extremely vulnerable to this new virus, which we cannot issue a patch for because we essentially wrote it and we want people to get infected it would likely mess up all your other applications to do so and we don't want to waste our programmers' time on something we don't want to fix anyway it is just a more efficient, productive solution for you to upgrade your software. However, if you insist on using this outdated software, there is a temporary port-blocking workaround that will protect you but rest assured new strains of our virus will find ways around this.

I know it's best to upgrade software as much as possible, but when the upgrades start costing around $200, that can get more than a little cost-prohibitive and irritating. And these are the people who said open source software makes systems more vulnerable to attack? Why not try converting your own to open source so maybe you can put out a more solid, reliable product from the get-go instead of issuing patches every month and getting users accustomed to that being an acceptable business practice?