TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Hackers Attack Student's Web Site

Re: Hackers Attack Student's Web Site
19 Jan 2006 08:13:07 -0800

Associated Press News Wire wrote:

> Tew ignored the threat. Hackers then initiated a so-called distributed
> denial of service, in which attackers take command of third-party
> computers, through a virus or other security vulnerability, and
> instruct them to send junk data to the target site, overwhelming
> servers and causing the site to crash or perform poorly.

I think most lay (non-techie) compuer users are aware of viruses and
the need for virus protection. (Whether or not they have sufficient
protection is another issue.) However, I suspect most lay users are
NOT aware of the third-party hijacking, especially when they
semi-permanently connect their computer to a broadband network as so
many people are doing.

In the 60 year history of computing, technies have a very poor track
record of communicating with lay people. Computer technies just have
a natural affinity to deal with "green on glass", command strings, or
other technical issues but lay people do not. A great many technies
are rather arrogant and impatient with lay people. (We see that with
some of the correspondants to this newsgroup).

Peter Norton deserves much credit; he translated hairy tech stuff into
lay terms for the rest of us and developed literature and products to
make it easier for lay people. But the computer industry has to do a
lot more. "Education" does not mean throwing a lot of Unix command
protocols at people.

The result is that end users don't even know they're being tracked by
spy-ware or hijacked by other networks. Why isn't anyone warning
those "third party" machine owners of the problem?

The business people in the computer industry deserve much blame too.
They're so focused on selling stuff they monopolize the customer's
time in sales pitches and options rather than an understanding of the
basic components. That software provided to people would provide the
capability for "pop up" ads is inexcusable, as an example.

In this topic, I compare the computer industry to the automotive
industry of the 1950s. Automakers wanted to sell cars and kept making
them bigger and faster and flashier. As more cars came on the road,
deaths and injuries from accidents skyrocketed but the auto industry
did very little. Adverse publicity, like Ralph Nader's book and
compulsary government regulation to have seatbelts and other safety
features. Highway departments learned how to build safer roads.

I do see that AOL is advertising that it protects its users, but I
don't see that protection in actual practice among AOL users I know.
They're still bombarded with spam and the like. I don't see any
hardware or software makers advertising computer safety.

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