PACKET RAT

The Rat starts a campaign to break Windows

Last month the Rat glimpsed an article in which Air Force CIO John Gilligan complained about the security problems of Microsoft Windows. 'We're not leaving Microsoft in a week or six months,' he told InformationWeek, but he did suggest that dumping Microsoft Corp. products was an option.

'Even though Microsoft may have good functionality in products and the purchase price may be reasonable, the overall lifecycle cost and vulnerability may cause us to look at other products,' Gilligan was quoted as saying.

Now the company's chief operating officer, Rick Belluzzo, who met with Gilligan last fall, has left after a reorganization. Howard Schmidt, who tagged along to that Air Force meeting with Belluzzo, also has departed, but he became a fed: vice chairman of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

The question is, does anybody still at Microsoft have that meeting on a follow-up list?

The Rat wants to know. He's done as much as he can to lower the lifecycle management burden of sending out 5 zillion monthly Windows security patches to his agency's clients and servers. He's replaced Win 2000 server operating systems with Linux. He's frozen desktop OS upgrades at Win NT 4.0 Service Pack 6. He's refined image deployment schemes almost to the point where he can run them from his wireless phone. But he still has to deal with security breaches on a regular basis, almost all of them related to Windows.

The furry one thinks the armed services ought to do more than just stop buying from Microsoft if the company doesn't get its security act together soon.

Military options would be considerably more effective than jawboning. Such incentives could even have the desirable side effect of accelerating an equitable antitrust settlement with the Justice Department.
Just call it the War on Errorism.

The first phase of the wirebiter's campaign against bug-filled code would be called Operation Returned Merchandise Authorization.

Using C-17 Globemasters, Operation RMA would airlift the installation media for every Windows license in the Air Force inventory over the Seattle area, then push the disks out the cargo door over Bill Gates' mansion on Lake Washington.

Failing immediate capitulation, the Rat would advise committing ground forces. In this second phase, Operation Firewall, a Marine expeditionary force and a Navy construction battalion would go in to establish a security buffer around Redmond, Wash.

For every federal system compromised by Windows OS flaws, the Seabees would bulldoze a structure on the Microsoft campus, until the company's coders came up with a protocol for rapidly identifying and eliminating security flaws.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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