On Wed, 2 Jan 2008, Anne & Lynn Wheeler wrote:
however, another interpretation is that the defenders
have chosen extremely poor position to defend ... and are
therefor at enormous disadvantage. it may be necessary
to change the paradigm (and/or find the high ground)
in order to successfully defend.

Yes, I wish that were pointed out more often. Detecting viruses is a fundamentally losing battle: a sufficiently advanced virus can fully simulate a clean computer for the scanner to run in.

On the other hand, writing an OS that doesn't get infected in the first place is a fundamentally winning battle: OSes are insecure because people make mistakes, not because they're fundamentally insecurable.

Detecting spam by analysis of the text is another losing battle: even humans can't always agree on what's spam.

The maddening part is that security as an industry is almost always forced to fight on the losing battlefields, even though we've had beautiful, efficient, impregnable fortresses available for many years. Any crypto book from 20 years ago can show you how to send an unforgeable email or sign a binary, yet these notions still haven't widely caught on (and when they have, as in the Xbox, they get hijacked for things like DRM and privacy invasion).

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