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

(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.

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Showing 3 of 33 comments
Jun 1, 2014 1:21 PM CDT
I was at the highest level, IV, a software tester for M$ and concur with Norton. "By Design" was the most common excuse for allowing bugs because marketing said the release would be on such and such date and we can't let marketing down because too many sheeple believe them. It got worse when development was shipped to first Ireland and then India. Prices didn't drop but quality certainly did.
May 30, 2014 12:28 AM CDT
NSA used to tap all phones inside and outside the US. Now it taps emails and surfing. Good luck trying to stop an organization with an unlimited budget from finding what it wants. Even the best software has to be build on something. I suggest you create all your own programs and have fun playing pong for the rest of your life. The only way good programs are created is by teams of people, who are paid to write and go home. if you want your information to be safe stop using the net.
May 27, 2014 6:03 PM CDT
Mr. Norton joins a long list of folks who make a handsome living painting the rest of us into a dark corner.