(2005-04-30) Surfa lugnt - Surf calmly

Yesterday I went to the "Surfa Lugnt" seminar here i Stockholm. This event was sponsored by 15 organizations wanting to spread knownledge about threats on the internet. Among those 15 I found governmental authorities like PTS (Post of telestyrelsen), krisberedskapsmyndigheten and companies like Symantec, Microsoft, IBM and F-secure. The intended audience was not security experts or technicians so the level of the seminars was mostly basic, but never the less I learned some really interesting facts about crime on the internet.

The big attraction of the whole event was off course Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer. Yep, that's the man who screamed "I ... LOVE ... THIS ... COMPANY" on a now infamous PR-event a couple of years ago. The first thing I noticed about him was his eyes. He had a staring wild look and a mildly scaring appearance. But first impressions may not always last. Actually he made a very energetic and well rehearsed speech on Microsoft's take on security. To my disappointment he didn't have any revolutionary visions or new plans to reveal. It was mostly a rehash of Microsofts work of informing users and raising the overall security level of its programs.

The joint expertise of Symantec and F-Secure was a whole lot more interesting to listen to as we were treated to a very interesting summary of the last 10-20 years of computer related crimes and intrusions. Their findings went along the common lines that crackers have gone from savvy amateurs to criminal professionals working for more or less shady gangs and in some cases corporations. Zombies, botnets, open relays and terms like spamming, phishing and spyware was explained in a way that probably gave novices a chance of understanding how serious IT-Security actually is. They ended their lecture by splashing eggs on a plastic sheet and comparing the fragile eggs to perimeter security. The last thing to hit the floor was an onion which off course was meant to symbolize "security in depth". The onion didn't behave as expected and sent pieces of itself into the audience. While this was not what the experts had expected, it showed in a strange kind of way how much we believe in security as a panacea.

Ulrica Messing, the Swedish minister of infrastructure told us how the Swedish government looks on the future of Swedish IT. She spoke about Swedens role in the globalized market. No news but still some good points made.

Symantec earned quite a few goodwill points by actually giving away full versions of it's combined firewall and antivirus-protection "Norton Internet Security 2005" to the first 500 visitors. I got my hands on one copy which I actually use on the computer now. See if I can cobble together a review soon.

Verdict:
The event was as I said not primarily geared towards IT-professionals but more to decision makers and interested surfers. The event is also a part of a larger campaign called "Surfa Lugnt" which in English roughly translates to "surf calmly". The industry is clearly worried by the large numbers of unprotected computers connected to broadband connections and used by novice users. Anyone who used to say "Hey, I don't care if they crack my computer, I don't have any secrets" should know better now. In all it was a good and interesting event.

While I like to say I support this kind of effort one thing remains left out: the role of Microsoft Windows. No one dared to point any fingers towards the facts that the majority of compromised systems used in spamming run Windows. This may not be so strange considering the large number of installations and the varying degree of knowledge of the end users, but still everyone downplayed Windows role in the situation. I'm really not trying to say anything like "Windows is inferior to X" as I believe the knowledge and understanding of the user or the administrator is what counts regardless of which operating system that he/she uses. Let's not open that can of worm, shall we? And yeah, before I end this discussion: anyone who runs their operating system as root or administrator should really think twice.

If you're in Sweden, check their site out:
http://www.surfalugnt.se/

// The TigersCLAW on a Windows XP PC... :)


Tags: Surf calmly, Microsoft, Steve Balmer
Posted: 2010-06-17 by Erik Zalitis
Changed: 2010-06-17 by Erik Zalitis

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