[Dshield] More on Windows Messenger from Yesterday's DartmouthDaily Feed

John Holmblad jholmblad at aol.com
Sat Oct 25 16:06:52 GMT 2003


I completely agree that service providers build trust only by informing 
customers in ADVANCE when they make changes to the user's operating 
environment that are supposed to be good for the user. I think what is 
really needed for a service like AOL, which has missed a real market 
opportunity over the last several years from the small and medium 
business segment,  is to differentiate its interface  to its customers 
based on their level of expertise and/or (as you have aptly pointed out) 
need to retain full control of their operating environment to assure 
that something else does not get broken when making a supposedly 
beneficial change. In other words AOL could/should tailor its interface 
based on a customer's desire/need to know what is going on under the 
covers. Microsoft has gotten this right in the sense that with respect 
to their Windows Update service, it is possible for the user to 
configure it in a number of different ways, from fully automatic to 
fully manual. What it really boils down to of course, is to what degree 
is the user willing to trust the service provider to make changes to the 
user's computer that are appropriate and safe.

It is hard (but not impossible) to  argue with the positive impact on 
network security of AOL taking the action it did considering that the 
median expertise of their user basis is skewed toward the non-IT 
population many of whom, most assuredly are not up on their Microsoft 
patch level. However, by doing it silently AOL missed a key opportunity 
to educate its user base and, as we all know, education in  safe 
computing practices is probably the most important thing (in the sense 
of  INFOSEC return on investment of our time) all of us can do for our 
non-IT colleagues to increase the security of the Internet and 
everything that goes along with it.


Best Regards,


John Holmblad


Televerage International


(H) 703 620 0672

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