Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Step Back

I think Don MacVittie missed the point in his column about backward compatibility ("Don't Look Back," Oct. 10, 2002). The point is not that Microsoft has to consider six OSs to make its software compatible because users won't abandon Win95 and Win98. The point is that Microsoft has six OSs to consider because a user cannot stay compatible. Why didn't Win95 automatically become Win98, and why is Win98 so different from Win98SE? Shouldn't the end user be given the chance to stay current without spending a fortune on OS upgrades? I have PCs in my company that do not support WinXP but are not fully depreciated. That means we purchased them within the past five years. I will not upgrade hardware just to upgrade software to stay current. If Microsoft and hardware vendors paid attention to that, the number of backward compatibility issues would be fewer.

Sure, the end user has some responsibility to stay current. But when Microsoft dominates the market and sends out patches, hot fixes and service packs that make backward compatibility impossible, how can the end user be blamed?

Ken Lynch, EIT
GIS Analyst
Keller Engineers
[email protected]

Security Gaps

Several products are available for consumers to secure their systems, however, few products can effectively be used alone to secure millions of computer systems (see "Gone in 6.0 Seconds," Sept. 30, 2002). This is especially true with regard to media-only encryption solutions. Using media encryption may lull people into a false sense of security and make their systems vulnerable to attacks from attached active and passive devices. Additionally, they are susceptible to network attacks. The proliferation of built-in wireless products for mobile devices puts your data at serious risk. Also, off-the-shelf OSs are not configured to protect your data; they are designed to allow easy access. Consequently, your data is not being protected while you are using the system because media encryption is effective only when the system is "at rest" or powered off.

I never cease to be amazed by the naivete of computer users with regard to security. And there's no shortage of IT "professionals" who are clueless about security best practices. With all the half measures and false promises in the industry today, securing computer systems amounts to locking the door of a straw house.

Jerry Dowless

Dowless & Associates
E-mail address withheld on request

Patch Work

I agree 100 percent that patch managers are needed tools ("PatchLink Helps Keep Windows Closed," Sept. 2, 2002). We don't patch as frequently as we should because of insufficient resources. In the past, I've looked at UpdateExpert and Shavlik's solution and was inclined to go with UpdateExpert. After further evaluation, though, I discovered that Up-

  • 1