Index Home About Blog
Newsgroups: comp.risks
X-issue: 6.76
Date: Tue, 3 May 88 13:58:17 EDT
From: mnetor!utzoo!henry@uunet.UU.NET
Subject: Re: To speak of the disease is to invoke it?  (Viruses)

> ... Imagine howbad the
> virus situation would be 20 years from now if we didn't find out about
> it now! We would have cars that could be infected, automated airliners
> waiting for an accident to happen, automated defense systems that
> could strike individuals deads directly from space, all existing in an
> environment without integrity.

Mmm, I would be inclined to consider this an example of the "Floppy Disk
Fallacy" ("my PC uses floppy disks, so obviously professional programmers
working on Crays must use floppy disks").  Not everyone is as casual about
security as the PC crowd.  Although there are reasons to worry about the
safety of automated airliners and military systems, virus infection is
not plausibly one of them.  In the aerospace-software community, I am told,
it is not unheard-of to verify the *binaries* manually to make sure they do
the right thing, because the compilers are not fully trusted.  Although
these folks are thinking about programming errors rather than viruses, they
already care seriously about integrity.  (Whether they care *enough*,
especially when commercial pressures get serious, is a different issue.)

People doing life-critical work probably should take some precautions.
But quivering in fear that MSDOS viruses will infect airliners is like
quivering in fear of hackers dialing up NORAD's computers and starting
World War III (when in fact NORAD's computers simply do not *have* dialup
access, because those people take security seriously and always have).

Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology {ihnp4,decvax,uunet!mnetor}!utzoo!henry

Index Home About Blog