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Offline Metgod

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Congress to interfere with IT security ?
« on: November 07, 2003, 02:04:46 PM »
What does everyone think about Congress intereferring with computer security, by forcing all computers in the US to have antivirus software.

I guess they miss unix and linux and other OS's where it' snot much of a deal. And I guess they miss that this won't stop new worms / viruses before it's already done damage. Oh and let's not forget about other countries (though, not surprisingly, they state they'd like to work on an international law. Cheers to anyone who tells the US to mind their own business).

Zerored said at some point he hates schools jumping ont eh security bandwageon (I do as well of course) and here we go again.. suggesting that KIDS in school (grade, highschool, etc.) will help increase awareness. Can anyone here imagine yourself in one of these classes ? I could just see how I respond or how I act in that class.. definitely correcting and suggesting things that are incorrect or who knows what else...

Another concern is not everyone wants bloated software or software that slows down their system.. or what about those who can't afford it ? I sure as hell hope that if the gov't tries to pull such a stunt that they'll be paying for the people.

Oh, and finally.. this comment at the end about motives of computer crime is just stupid.. it really has nothing to do with 'not having a date'... heh..

oh well, that's my thoughts.

Anyone else have thoughts or is this one of my futile attempts to start a convo ?


By Grant Gross
NOVEMBER 06, 2003

A U.S. House of Representatives member proposed today that Congress
require every computer to have antivirus software installed. But IT
security experts disagreed with that suggestion and proposed other
ways for the government to encourage cybersecurity among private
companies and individual users.

Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.) during a hearing questioned whether
Congress should require that antivirus software be installed on every
U.S. computer to counter the billions of dollars in damage done by
viruses and worms in 2003 alone.

"Is it time for the federal government to develop some kind of
Internet security agency that would develop standards for all
legitimate software, require automatic update and patching and
establish a base level for every single computer in the country?" Bass
said during a hearing on computer viruses by the House Energy and
Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the
Internet. "Is there any reason why any computer in this country
shouldn't have some kind of antivirus software on it as a

No such reason exists, said Art Wong, vice president of security
response for antivirus software vendor Symantec Corp., prompting some
laughs from the audience.

But other witnesses at the hearing expressed doubt over whether
computer users would accept such a requirement. The outcry from users
over their rights being trampled would be "shocking," said Ken Silva,
vice president of VeriSign Inc.

"What you're proposing is tantamount to trimming a little fat off the
Constitution," Silva told Bass. "Smart computer users would in fact
update their software, but I'm just not sure that any kind of federal
agency that required automatic updates on people's computers for all
of their software is something that the public would tolerate."

Beyond a debate about the rights of computer users, an antivirus
mandate could cause problems on computers not set up to run antivirus
software, including ones used for factory automation or power or water
treatment plants, said Bill Hancock, CEO of the Internet Security
Alliance. "The result is certain infrastructure would go 'splat' and
not work at all," he said of Bass' antivirus and update suggestions.

The witnesses also disagreed on other ways to encourage cybersecurity.  
Software vendors should be pressed to write code that's less buggy,
said Richard Pethia, director of the CERT Coordination Center at
Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Other witnesses representing
software vendors downplayed that issue.

Trying to figure out how to build better software is "a no-win
situation and just beating a dead horse," Silva said.

Silva and Hancock suggested that Congress promote cybersecurity
education, with Silva recommending that it shift some federal funding
to grade and high school education for cybersecurity awareness.

But Pethia said he doubts education efforts could reach enough
computer users, saying instead that software vendors need to be
accountable. "The probability that we can drag 150 million users up
that learning curve is relatively small," he said.

Hancock and Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the Business
Software Alliance, also called for Congress to commit more law
enforcement resources to fighting cybercrime. "Law enforcement is
typically hampered due to a lack of tools, a lack of investment and a
lack of skill sets," Hancock said.

Fewer than 10 virus or worm writers were arrested worldwide in 2002,
while more than 200 viruses and worms were unleashed on the Internet,
he said.

Holleyman called for Congress to push for international agreements to
enforce cybercrime laws and to create a "culture of security"  
worldwide. U.S. laws alone will not solve cybersecurity problems,
because some countries will continue to harbor hackers and spammers,
he said.

Even if the U.S. has international agreements with some countries,
hackers and spammers will continue to find places to operate if U.S.  
laws drive them offshore, Hancock said. Responding to a question about
how a federal antispam law would limit the spread of viruses and worms
through e-mail, Hancock said Romania has one cybercrime investigator.  
"This guy is grossly overwhelmed," Hancock said.

Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) pushed his antispam legislation, the
Anti-Spam Act of 2003, as a way to fight the spread of viruses and
worms. "The combination of e-mail spam and viruses is like putting a
SARS patient on every airline flight in the country," he said.

Asked what motivates virus and worm writers, Hancock said many of them
are dysfunctional people with limited social skills, but he predicted
that cybercrime will increasingly be carried out by criminals with
political or terrorist motives. Currently, virus trackers see activity
jump between 4 p.m. Pacific time Fridays and 9 p.m. Pacific time
Sundays, as "every kid without a date starts picking on the network,"  
Hancock said.

"My Terminal is my Soul"