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The More Things Change, The More They Stay Secure

Written by Gordon Fecyk, 8/2/2015

Nothing's really changed. Even an IT geek like myself is vulnerable to simple human frailty.

And we still have people, like an overseas tech supporter from Symantec, who can save us from it.

FIVE DAYS INTO WINDOWS 10 and I find the nuts and bolts of Windows 8 (and Windows 7, and Windows Vista) alive and well inside.

I went into Windows 10 this week, avoiding the technical previews and media coverage for six months, to see what the released product looked like. My difficulty had less to do with Windows 10 and more to do with old fashioned human flaws.

While trying to find an example of malware that would affect my Windows 10 test PC,

  1. I found a scary article from Dan Goodin and pondered asking him for input,
  2. I launched my desktop Outlook client to write Dan Goodin, and found a piece of spam from 'spammer@host4.localdomain' and wondered, "isn't 'localdomain' an invalid top-level domain?"
  3. I tried logging on to Messagelabs' client portal to trace the message, only to forget my password,
  4. I requested a password reset only to find I forgot the answers to my secret questions,
  5. I tried again with the Messagelabs master account... and forgot its password too,
  6. I tried requesting a password reset for that account only to find I forgot its secret questions too,
  7. I locked myself out of the master account,
  8. I phoned Symantec.cloud support and spoke to a very helpful fellow from overseas,
  9. This fellow unlocked my account and helped me reset both my user password and master password,
  10. I then logged on to both accounts and chose new passwords and new secret questions and answers, and
  11. Finally after verifying that Messagelabs indeed delivered a message from a domain that didn't exist, I gave up on trying to write Dan Goodin.

I'm exhausted after that. I must be getting old.

Besides, taking a long look at Dan's recent missives made me want to hide under my bed with my laptop and WiFi turned permanently off. I haven't seen so much doom and gloom condensed into a single web page since Kelly Martin's days.


I'M SURE DAN could find something wrong with the setup, and then I'd try to correct it. But I think he'd be more interested in the apocalyptic effects rather than any solutions to prevent them. So, I'm not writing him. It'd be like trying to play a game of Pigeon Chess; no point in trying to quell hysteria with someone whose job appears to be promoting hysteria.

In the end, nothing's really changed. Microsoft's desktop OS hasn't changed; the same tools I used since Vista are still there in Windows 10. Even the security hasn't really changed; average users are still easily duped by vulnerabilities in humans, and average magazine authors still love to scare us. Even an IT geek like me is vulnerable to simple human frailty. And we still have people, like that fellow overseas from Symantec Support, who can save us from it.

I still have the Windows 10 Pro virtual machine I used to make my recent Safeguarding series, so it's still available to test. Do you have a dastardly scheme that could defeat a safeguarded Windows 10 PC?

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