Boy, it looks like we're behind the curve on everything lately, because we only just found out yesterday about Microsoft's latest brilliant strategy to rid the planet of the scourge of Windows-infecting viruses. No, we're not talking about putting bounties on the heads of the virus-writers; we covered that little gem back in November, so we're not that far out of date. But given that Mydoom stomped the Internet into a gooey paste last week, apparently setting aside a whopping $5 million in reward money (why, that's probably almost a full thousandth of the cost to the world's economy of the Blaster and SoBig viruses! How generous!) and posing for a few press-friendly snapshots with international law enforcement agencies wasn't quite as effective at solving Microsoft's security problems as the company had hoped. We know, we're as shocked as you are.
So without further ado, here's Microsoft's latest foolproof path to that elusive goal of Trustworthy Computing the company made its "top priority" over two years ago: warning posters. Yes, posters. Faithful viewer andrü notes that you can hop on over to Microsoft's web site and download three different free security posters, each boasting an oh-so-hip "fake road signs" motif ("HACKERS AHEAD," "DO NOT PICK UP VIRUSES," and "INTERNET WORM CROSSING, NEXT 5 MILES"; collect 'em all!) ready for printing and plastering all over the walls of your institution to "educate your students, faculty, and staff on the simple steps they can take to protect their PCs." What simple steps, you ask? Well, the posters entreat users to "use up-to-date antivirus software," "use an Internet firewall," and "get computer updates." And thus shall Microsoft's security nightmares end forever!
Incidentally, faithful viewer Ben informs us that he's posted a slightly reworked poster of his own, which instructs readers that the most effective way to avoid viruses is to "Get Mac OS X." We're sure that the folks in Redmond appreciate his sincere effort to prevent the spread of viruses.
Note that instead of downloading PDFs and printing the posters yourself, you (well, to be perfectly accurate, schools-- this is targeted at education customers, apparently) can order a kit containing 25 of each of the three posters online free of charge; Microsoft will even pay for shipping. At least, you're supposed to be able to order them online; currently the page bears a lovely red warning that says "NOTICE: The ordering site has been shut down for maintenance purposes." Suuuuure it has. "Maintenance purposes." Mmmm-hm. Interesting that the page also says "Last updated: 1/31/2004"; that's some mighty thorough maintenance going on, there. Does anyone else suspect that the antivirus poster server may be down due to, well, a virus? Or would that just be too karmically perfect for this world?
Anyway, that's the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Strategy Du Jour for you, and by gum, while offering cash rewards to capture virus-writers didn't work out as well as it might have, we've got a really good feeling about this latest tactic. Seriously, is there any problem a well-placed poster can't solve? But on the off-off-off chance the poster campaign doesn't stop all viruses dead in their tracks, may we make a humble suggestion for Microsoft's next strategy?
FIX YOUR #*&@ING SOFTWARE, ALREADY.
Just a thought.