Microsoft Security Exec Suggests Internet Tax To Pay For 'Computer Health Care' Program

from the is-that-an-HMO-or-a-PPO? dept

Tank Szuba alerts us to the story about a Microsoft security exec suggesting that it might make sense to implement an internet usage tax to help fund a “computer healthcare system” to fix the notoriously insecure software that his company produces. It doesn’t sound like a well-thought out proposal. It seems more like a brainstorm from a panel discussion by Scott Charney, Microsoft’s Vice President for Trustworthy Computing. He suggests, as others have, that a system could be setup for quarantining infected computers, but when asked how to pay for it, he suggests such a tax. Or, of course, Microsoft could make software that doesn’t have as many security holes.

Charney seems to model his idea off of our broken healthcare system:

“I actually think the health care model … might be an interesting way to think about the problem,”

Has he looked at how well healthcare has been working lately? Of course, as with healthcare, the real issue should be preventative efforts, and those mainly start with Microsoft and how it architects its software. But I guess it’s easier to just ask everyone to pay a tax to hide that.

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Comments on “Microsoft Security Exec Suggests Internet Tax To Pay For 'Computer Health Care' Program”

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:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Uh huh...

Are you saying they simply can’t hack it…?
: P

Cracking Linux would be worthwhile–a majority of the world’s corporate and web servers (you know, important things–unlike stupid Windows users’ computers) run on Linux. The reason botnet handlers target Windows users? Windows has no security. (or, in modern parlance: easy targets.)

Burgos says:

Re: Re: Uh huh...

Thats because most crackers don’t program virus’s for the piddling population of Linux distros.

It doesn’t matter. At the moment, most malware-infected computers out there are on Windows. When it can be shown that a good proportion of *nix computers are also infected by *nix-specific malware, then we can talk about taxing *nix users. But until then, the tax should only apply to Windows users.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Uh huh...

I’ve never had a problem with viruses on any Windows computer I’ve ever had, let alone the fact that I use Linux as my primary OS these days. So, I’ve never had a problem with viruses and I’ve never caused a problem with viruses; why should I pay a tax to fix other peoples problems? That isn’t taxing for healthcare, that’s taxing me to pay other peoples gym fees when I keep fit without spending any money.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Uh huh...

why should I pay a tax to fix other peoples problems?

I guess because that’s pretty much the way taxes work now, it seems…

And is it just me, or does the idea of quarantining infected computer sound even dumber than a tax for it? I’m picturing the military descending upon a data center in hazmat suits, followed by firebombing as the trojan horse spreads out of control.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Uh huh...

“I guess because that’s pretty much the way taxes work now, it seems…”

To be honest I worded it badly. Still, I’m not sure what current tax you could compare this to. It’d be like taxing roads to pay for problems involving cars. I’m pretty sure you don’t get your car repaired by the taxpayer if you crash it.

If Microsoft hadn’t only just gotten around to encouraging security on their consumer software then we wouldn’t see a thousandth of the troubles we do now. It’s hard to convince people not to ignore warning messages when their computers never used to have them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Uh huh...

The Toyota example would fit. One brand of car has a stopping problem. We tax everyone to fix it.

The unusual thing about windows users is that they pay other people to fix their computers rather than expecting Microsoft too. If people had viable options other than Microsoft, such as a Honda for our car example, Microsoft would be all over free security.

As it is, we are apparently willing to tax people over it.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Uh huh...

Right, but it has nothing to do with the OS they use. There are a handful of Mac viruses for the handful of Mac users. There aren’t really linux viruses (beyond proof-of-concept) because the users are smart enough not to get them.

If any other OS were to rise to prominence, you’d immediately be confronted by this user:

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Uh huh...

“There aren’t really linux viruses (beyond proof-of-concept) because the users are smart enough not to get them.”

More importantly, the people who create Linux distributions are usually smart enough to encourage (and code) best practice whenever they can. It’s an ongoing battle.

Notably, Gnome and KDE have run into trouble while trying to be more accessible to people used to Windows; they took the basic security principle of the executable bit and threw it away until someone pointed out what a backwards step that was. They still, arguably, do too little to discourage people from running untrusted code as they have ‘fixed’ the issue with a simple ‘are you feeling lucky?’ dialogue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Can't mimic healthcare ideas for this one...

The reason being is that for health care, many people still have pity for those in a desperate situation. These people feel compassionate for those put in a bad situation by genetics or in the ER by an accident. There are even some who pity and wish to help those with bad habits that land those people in the hospital, habits which are entirely their responsibility.

However, when someone’s computer is infected with malware, nobody has pity for them. Not the other malware infected people, not the uninfected people, and despite the topic of this article, not even Microsoft gives a damn. Being the victim of malware is not pitiful, and it doesn’t pull on anyone’s heartstrings, it’s just plain moronic, that’s why instead of excitedly agreeing, this Microsoft employee will find that most people will be outraged by his suggestion, as we all are here.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

WOW Little mikee m's ignorance shines

little mikee, do you REALLY not have a clue about software development? Windows is MILLIONS of lines of code, do you REALLY expect it to be flawless????

Maybe you should buy a clue or two before posting…

Linux is JUST as buggy if not worse, it’s just a tiny share of the market so noone tagets it

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: WOW Little mikee m's ignorance shines

Michial – there’s often a trade-off between security and ease of use. Historically, Microsoft has often valued ease of use over security. They are definitely getting better, but it’s taking them a long, long time.

Nobody thinks they can make flawless software. Lots of us wish they would place a higher value on security though.

senshikaze (profile) says:

Re: WOW Little mikee m's ignorance shines

point one: linux clocks in at 20 million lines of code.

point two: linux is a target, just not a consumer target. it is easier to get a virus from the internet through stupidity then someone actively hacking your network.

Point three: are you meaning linux as a whole? or the kernel? the kernel is damn near rock solid. the whole, including userland? yea, I can problems, but that doesn’t mean Linux is at fault. Apache may be, but the kernel is strong.

Point four: obviously you are the one who needs to actually learn a thing or two about software development instead of spouting bs.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Yours shines brighter!!!

I know, I know…don’t feed the troll!

So Windows is millions of lines of code. So what?

The Linux kernel is millions of lines of code too.

The BSD kernel is millions of lines of code too, if it comes top that.

I have yet to encounter either BSD or Linux with as many kernel “soft targets” as Windows and haven’t seen a one of those over the years that’s taken more than 48 hours to close on my distros of either. MS, on the other hand, has left some open in Windows for years particularly as the affect IE.

Part of it is the design as *Nix was designed from day one to be networked and secure which is why userland is completely separate from systemland.

DOS, and therefore Windows, began life as a clone of CP/M with no networking or protection moved on to Windows 1.0. 2.0. 3.0. 3.1 and 95 still as single user systems. A huge mass of that code is still there. Networking and TCP/IP were add-ons poorly created and, in TCP/IP’s case born broken and remain that way right up to Win7.

I know of what I am speaking because I make a good living, than you very much, fixing problems on large networks and when I’m called in to fix a problem with the internet my first question is “what’s your edge server” and if the answer my next question is “what idiot did that” who is usually the contractor they hired after I fixed the last event.

So I get 6 hours of pay for showing up, mostly in the middle of the night, putting the *nix server back up as the edge machine configuring it back to where I left it the last time putting the Window server behind that and then looking at the traffic protocol by protocol till I find it. Mostly it’s bot nets, mostly it’s infected the Windows server and mostly could have been prevented by leaving things how I’d left them. I may spend only two hours doing this but I get paid for 6 cause it’s always the middle of the night when I get the call so I want to be well paid and I want them to remember.

Yes, there’s malware for Linux most of it botnets but those holes can be easily plugged in Linux through either firewalling, proper proxying and proper, simply implemented defenses against rootkits. Try that in Windows!

Oh yeah, and the greatest. most wonderful part of my day is sitting there at the command line in both Windows and Linux and having the MS consultant looking at me totally lost asking why I’m not using wizards. 🙂

MS is getting much better at security but they have a problem with all that legacy code buried way back to DOS, a hell of a lot of it spaghetti code and runtime encoded MS Basic of one form or another until the early 90s. So they have an enormous problem on their hands.

Now then, do you want a clue or two to buy? Did I mention that I make a very good living doing this?



i ate my wheatus says:

@Michial Thompson

ya thats why more servers run linux then winblows

its why the US military uses linux as does china and why all of russia is migrating to it.
YEA cause its worse
YOU SIR attained the RETARD AWARD of the DAY.

AND there is no excuse for you breaking laws right, you cant use ignorance in a court of law as a defense why then should a software maker be allowed to do the same.

JUST think of the possibilities we can have here for this type a tax.

WE could make crappy hammers that break after one use and tax people to RIGHT the problem

WE coudl create cars that there brakes go after the first push, and tax people to correct the problem

DAMN SOOO MUCH tax we can have OHHHHHH YES IM RICH $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$4

Griff (profile) says:

Re: New idea

“Why not just have an OS that when it’s hit with a virus or malware to “format c:”.”

Because the first time the monitor program made a mistake (or got compromised!) and YOU lost all your data, you’d be crying up a storm.

Windows Embedded currently has something like that – it’s called Write Filtering. Basically, for embeddded controllers, you can set up Windows so it keeps all changes in RAM and abandons them at reboot – never writing to the disk.

The downside is you lose all your data. But hey, a virus
free system!

Modern software is amazingly complex. It’s always going to have holes. No matter what it is, or is running on.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Linux

“I hope Linux people realize that if all the Window users went to Linux, they would log in as root, click everything they see, and all of the bad programmers would follow from Windows over to Linux.”

And most of the existing Linux users and developers would avoid those bad programmers like the plague. They would be able to do so due to the competitive and free nature of open source.

It’s a valid point, but it wouldn’t put anything back. Linux isn’t just lines of code anyone can contribute to, it’s communities. If your doomsday scenario were real then it’s already been and gone in the form of Lindows.

SImple Answer says:

Re: Linux

“I hope Linux people realize that if all the Window users went to Linux, they would log in as root, click everything they see, … “

My guess is that you are not familiar with the various varieties of linux available, because if you were, you would not have made that silly statement. For example, a typical Ubuntu installation does not have a root account with login privledges. If you desire this capability, you must make the necessary changes yourself. Those that would surf the intarwebs as root would, most likely, not be capable of such system changes.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Linux

You mean like they do in Vista and Win7 by logging in as Admin and being there all day? 🙂

As for the end users they’d find themselves with a failing system soon enough and get whacked with large repair bill.

The bad programmers would find themselves rather stymied by things like the userland/systemland separation and their own need to learn over again what to do to get their crappy code to run.

Then again, there’s Ubuntu’s (horribly bad, IMHO, solution to that problem) or others which make root a bit difficult to use in a GUI by turning the whole thing red or, in a corporate setting, simply by not providing for a root login on the default login screen.



wheatus (user link) says:

Just like a mosquitto

This guy can smell a blood stream from a mile away. I’m sure there would be some sort of oversight panel, immune to lobbyists & in charge of preventing the companies receiving these subsidies from using them to compete in ways that do not involve product improvement….or how about we DON’T tax the internet and these scumbags just keep their filthy fucking hands off our money?

Yeah that,

bob says:

No Surprise

I am not at all surprised by this, what does surprise me is how long it took MS to float this idea. I bet it’s been an internal discussion for years.
What really surprises me is that a bill proposing this is not currently pending in congress.
Our health care system is not as bad as it’s made out to be.
Nothing that more government can’t make worse.
After all look at all the people who come here from Canada and other places for health care.

District Attorney says:

Root of Security

Wow! You people just love to flap your gums / keyboard. Do a root cause analysis and find the scum bags exploiting the security issues, viruses, etc., and put them behind bars in isolation. How long? If an infected computer takes four hours to fix, multiply four times the thousands of computers it infects! You don’t have to make it months or years. Just use the hours. The math will surprise you. Long enough? 10,000 X 4 = 40,000 / 24 = 1,666.6666666666666666666666666667 Y E A R S ! ! !


look people

this is about a tax a stupid tax that if it gets a precedent then hollywood will demand one
hammer and car makers will demand one SOON ill not be able to afford eating a candy bar without a mortgage

THAT’S THE FACTS move along it ain’t gonna happen if it does it will tune people into the greed of MS and shove them more at linux at least if im taxed then ill not be using somehting that wont get fixed form a tax , MS already is a tax on every computer sold and its shown not to work.

WHY THE FUCK then add a second tax.
greedy lazy fuckers

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