[Dshield] He thinks he is bulletproof, is he?

Kenneth Coney superc at visuallink.com
Thu Dec 4 06:01:55 GMT 2003


I belong to a group that occasionally sends emails containing proprietary 
commercial information from person to person for comment.  Recently while 
seeking evaluations of a data base program I learned we have a person in 
the group who uses a machine with only 16 megs or RAM and who removed (more 
or less completely) Internet Explorer from his Windows 95 machine seven or 
eight years ago and he has no AV and no firewall.  Since MS alerted us to 
the RPC vulnerability 
(http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-026.asp) I have 
been trying to get him to upgrade his machine, obtain anti virus software 
and firewalls, or at least get any required patches.  This is his latest reply.

"I rarely do Windows.  I do them at times when I need to view
an MS-Word document with all its pretty fonts and formatting
and/or lines and and boxes and images.  If I just need to know
only what the document says I use a program named Antiword to take
a look at it.  Antiword does a great job of converting MS-Word to
plain text.  Antiword is free and you can download versions of it
for almost all operating systems including even DOS.

Other times when I do Windows are those times when it is really
important for me to take a look at web pages infested with lots
of JavaScript and requiring a browser capable of handling it in
order to get any information from them.  None of my DOS-based browsers
can deal with JavaScript.  They just ignore it.  A DOS ported version
of the Unix text browser known as "Lynx" does a great job of getting
into https SSL web pages.  I have it installed on my machine.  For
doing web-browsing to display inline graphics I use a DOS browser known
as Arachne.  It displays web pages just as well as MSIE and NetScape
as long as the web pages don't make use of JavaScript and/or
browser-specific proprietary HTML tags.  Also Arachne doesn't do SSL.
Lynx does SSL but it doesn't handle JavaScript.  I have successfully
used the Lynx browser on several occasions for doing online shopping
and ordering merchandise by using a secure web page.

I have the understanding that as long as I am using a DOS-only machine
there is no way a hacker could invade my machine while I am online
without my noticing that something very bizarre and fishy is happening
inside my system.

For going to web pages with my Windows 95 machine I use the Opera
browser.  It isn't as bloated as the current versions of MSIE and
NetScape and it runs fine on systems having only 16MB of memory.

I never use a Windows machine for doing email.  When I am at a public
terminal running a Windows machine I do my email by running Pine on
my Unixish shell account.  I can get into my shell account on the remote
computer by running a Java Applet that does SSH which I can access from
a web browser.  When I finish my session the Java Applet self-destructs,
supposedly.

BTW, I have never received from anyplace on the internet a virus or
a worm capable of infecting a DOS system.  I have received thousands of
viruses and worms that are capable of infecting Windows 32 bit systems
only.  That is why I don't do my email with a Windows system."

I suspect he is very vulnerable to something, but lack enough root 
knowledge of TCP/IP and DOS to speak with certainty.  I agree he is safer 
than many, even safer than some with firewalls and AV software in that most 
virus writers these days don't seem to be expecting a DOS based machine, 
but I suspect he isn't as malware proof as he thinks.  He on the other hand 
believes he is completly bullet proof to all forms of malware and 
probe/infection attempts.  I'd like a second opinion.






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