Thank you for being perfectly clear about how this issue should be handled.
Tim Keller Director of Client Development Technology Solutions
Take A Whack
Thanks for saying so effectively what everyone who had to deal with last month's attacks is thinking. My only point of contention with your article is where you state that we are too civilized to wield the hammer. As someone who manages a team that suffered the loss of days of productivity in the month of August, I'd gladly take my place in line for a whack with that hammer.
I've always appreciated your columns and your candor. Please keep them coming.
Developers Are Partly To Blame
I applaud your stand against those hackers that cause damage. If they are caught, then they should be dealt with using the full force of the law. That being said, this is a big if. The current state of security is a like homebuilder selling houses without doors and windows. Later on, the builder does make the doors available but at first you must drive to their location to pick them up. If your house is ransacked, then they chide you because you didn't install the doors and windows. And, of course, once in a while one of the doors or windows is defective, making your house collapse. Later, they deliver the doors and windows to your house but you must install them. After seeing you are incompetent to install doors and windows, they float a plan to install them for you. However, you are wary of this because you are worried your house is about to collapse.
Security must be taken seriously, and developers should be held accountable for their products. If we can hold hackers accountable for their actions, then developers should also face sanctions for not developing stringent methods of testing software for bugs in the development stage or protecting systems from bugs once the software is released. Some operating systems already include protection in this area.
Any who works in IT has dealt with this and was stuck with cleaning up someone else's mess. I heard that some of the issues with the blackout here in the Northeast might have been aggravated because of Blaster-clogged networks. Now we go beyond inconvenience and on to public safety. In many professions, a screw-up that resulted in the amount of damage caused by Blaster, Sobig, Slammer, and others could end the careers of engineers and other professionals involved. However, with software, developers are covered by EULAs, and so we shrug our shoulders and say this is just another bug. We need to stop coddling the hackers, you are absolutely correct. However, we need to stop coddling the developers as well. The user who did not patch the system is only partially to blame; the developer who did not install the door is the primary culprit.
William Richter Information Technology Specialist
Edinboro University of PA
A More Serious Crime
In your article you write about virus writers and the potential of a virus causing a medically related machine from operating correctly. This could actually cause death in some circumstances, and as far as I am concerned this type of crime actually borders on attempted manslaughter.
Trent A. Bontly Netzotic Digital Consulting
All those affected should sue for damages. Sure, Jeffrey couldn't pay; but he would be in hock the rest of his life, and if he ever earned any money (with the help of Katie, Larry, et al), he'd lose most of those earnings.
Microsoft Shares The Blame
I agree that it's time to crack down on the virus writers, but it is also time for corporate America to start litigation against Microsoft for continuing to provide shoddy operating systems. Microsoft has used illegal and borderline illegal practices to get and maintain its monopoly on the American PC. Since Microsoft spent its time infringing on copyrights and threatening PC makers to not do business with their competitors instead of reducing bloated code and writing a more secure system, Microsoft should share the blame. Bill Gates promised a more secure operating system 19 months ago and has not delivered on his promise.
Lack Of Respect
Thank you for clearly stating what should be so obvious. One further point that is so often overlooked, or blatantly ignored, by today's self-centered population is that these acts of sabotage, aside from creating the potential for medical or financial disasters such as those you mention, do something even more basic. They damage other people's property and cost those people large amounts of time and frustration. What happened to teaching our children about respect for the personal property of others and for their time? Only meaningful consequences will stop the inclination toward such damage. Sadly, consequences seem to have been largely lacking in the lives of many people today--both the young and the not-so young!
I encourage you to submit your article (or a variation thereof) as a letter to the editor in the nation's major daily newspapers!
Barbara Brahmstedt VP Services
A Case For Small-Claims Court?
We lost several hours and had outside vendors patching, fixing, and cleaning up after Jeffery's gift. I'm sure we are not alone. What effect would it have to have several affected companies file small-claims suits for expenses in dealing with this? Doesn't cost much and they are a bitch to fight and clean off a credit report. Say 10 to 100 companies file $500 or $700 claims each. Just a thought.
Does anyone know how to contact little Jeffery? Makes an interesting talking point for Katie and pals.
Larry Quintana Rim Hospitality
Just wanted to say that I agree 110% with this column. While "only" 7,000 computers were affected with this one, how many people had to spend hours making sure their systems weren't in that tally? Updating system files, firewalls, virus definitions, educating users on the new threat, etc.--this all takes a lot of time, and the economic cost is very real.
In a perfect world, every single person affected by this kid would get to make a victim-impact statement at his sentencing, when he tries to play the "I've never been in trouble before" act. For example, a colleague had to miss his weekday visitation with his little girl to guard against this threat. A friend had to make almost $200 in long-distance calls when she couldn't send E-mails (she contracts musicians for a symphony). It might not sound like a lot of money to this kid who lives with his parents, but it caused her and her husband a lot of problems. I fixed her computer for free, but she wouldn't have been able to hire someone. "Hurtful accounts" indeed. Believe me, this kid hasn't heard the worst of it. And maybe he should.
I especially detest the way this kid feels sorry for himself, like he should get some sort of pass because he's never been in trouble before. Um, no. He could have avoided this whole thing. That kid knew exactly what he was doing, and he made a conscious choice to do it. And this isn't about the government trying to save face by "getting someone." It's about catching and punishing someone for his criminal acts. I don't care how talented he is; he wasted a lot of other people's talents with his criminal act. So why does he think he isn't the one the government needs to catch?
Kathryn Bohnert Muncie, Ind.
You hit the nail on the head again. Good article.
James Etherton Director - Materiel Services
Bay Medical Center
Panama City, Fla.
I firmly agree with your end point in your column "Don't Turn That Cheek To Hackers--Be Unchic."
Affecting 7,000 computers or 500,000 computers, the crime is the same. The intent was the same, that was to cause havoc and lost productivity. It is obvious Jeffrey Parson did not consider this while he took a virus and modified it to rerelease. If it was to illegally obtain use of computers and therefore addresses to sell to spammers or simply to see if it could be done, the results were the same: lost productivity. With our economy struggling to regain strength, this act is akin to economic sabotage. He should be held accountable. If he cannot discern right from wrong, he needs time to reflect--behind bars.
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