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The New and Definitely Improved Kelly Martin

Written by Gordon Fecyk, 5/18/2006

There are enough Web vulnerabilities now that it's quite easy for Linux or Mac running a web app to be brought into a botnet.

The 'new' Kelly Martin demonstrates a lot more clue.

[Listen to MP3 Audio]KELLY MARTIN OF SECURITYFOCUS deserves a round of applause, and my thanks.

It takes a real ego to blame a single company for the ills of the Internet. It takes a lot more courage to curb one's ego in the face of criticism, and Martin deserves recognition for that.

Ahh, those halcyon days. Remember when everyone blamed Microsoft for "bot nets?" You know, those vast armies of hijacked computers controlled by spammers, virus writers, denial-of-service attackers, cyber-terrorists and who knows who else.... um, wait a minute... they still blame Microsoft today, never mind. But at least Martin stopped, and that's a start.

GRANTED, IT TOOK MARTIN A WHILE to get over his compulsion:

The big names in the Internet world already know quite a bit about us. [...] Now we have the venerable Google Desktop - which, when shared between computers, has your data stored on Google servers for 30 days. Data that might subpoenaed by someone without your knowledge, a particularly dire fact for those of us who don't even live in the U.S.
I don't mean to be so hard on Google. They're just an easy target[...]. What about Yahoo and MSN? Have you read their respective privacy policy and terms of service? Do you trust them with your data?

I can see him working through his compulsion. I can even imagine him sitting at his desk back in February 2006, chanting to himself: "Don't blame Microsoft. Don't blame Microsoft. Don't blame Microsoft..."

Okay, okay, okay. That's enough. I wanted to write about that back in February and I had to get it out of my system. So much for me getting over my compulsions...

That was just the start, and since getting that out of his system, Martin now writes more thought-provoking articles about the ethics of pro-active computer security. For example:

There are clear legal and ethical issues involved in disabling botnets, especially when they involve thousands of machines that span dozens of countries with different legal systems. But doing nothing at all to stop them is worse than trying to help.

Hear, hear.

THE 'NEW' KELLY MARTIN demonstrates a lot more, shall I say, 'clue.' One of the anonymous comments that followed his botnet article read:

Don't use Microsoft Windows. End of problem, Use Linux or a Mac.

Martin's response?

Actually it wouldn't be the end of the problem at all. There are enough Web vulnerabilities now that it's quite easy for Linux or Mac running a web app to be brought into a botnet...

Once again: Hear, hear.

Criticism works. A critic can be cruel, and a good critic will use humour as a weapon to meet their ends. It took a good laugh to open Kelly Martin's eyes to his own absurdity.

It took more than a good laugh, however. It took a lot of courage for Martin to face his own absurdity and work through it. For that, he deserves my applause.

One down, lord knows how many to go.

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