Software Is Hopelessly Bad and No Data Is Safe

Security expert Quinn Norton explains why we're all screwed

By Kevin Spak,  Newser User

Posted May 22, 2014 10:00 AM CDT
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email

(Newser) – The computer you're reading this on right now is compromised. There's simply no way it's not, Quinn Norton explains in a fairly terrifying column at Medium. "Computers, and computing, are broken," Norton writes. "Most software gets shipped the moment it works well enough to let someone go home and see their family," leading to terrible programs littered with "0day" exploits—meaning potentially massive security holes you've had zero days to deal with. And even secure, encrypted software won't save you, because it still has to work with terrible software.

"Your average piece-of-shit Windows desktop is so complex that no one person on Earth really knows what all of it is doing, or how," Norton asserts. It's running loads of software, most of it awful. It could be part of a ten-thousand-computer botnet right now, and you wouldn't know. And the same is true of every computer—including those at governments, hospitals, banks, and more. A friend of Norton's once accidentally shut down an entire factory with an ill-placed ping. Another accidentally took over 50,000 computers overnight. So yes, your computer is vulnerable. "It isn’t a matter of if you get owned, only a matter of when." Click for Norton's entire column.

« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow

The number of people whose job it is to make software secure can practically fit in a large bar, and I’ve watched them drink. It’s not comforting. - Quinn Norton

[The NSA] isn’t doing so well because they are all powerful math wizards of doom. The NSA is doing so well because software is bullshit. - Quinn Norton

Every time you get a security update, whatever is getting updated has been broken, lying there vulnerable, for who-knows-how-long. Sometimes days, sometimes years. Nobody really advertises that part. - Quinn Norton

« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.