Allowing a Third Party In

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2009-01-10 Print this article Print


This was one of the problems I pointed out in my own earlier treatment of the problem: Opening holes in another user's computer could allow a third party, such as an outside hacker, to gain entry and cause damage, and you can rest assured the police (whatever country they may be from) won't be legally liable for the damages caused either by third parties or by the malware they introduce.

Hacking by drive-by download or e-mail virus stands a good chance of detection by a decent anti-malware product, potentially tipping off the suspect. It would be much more effective to break into the premises and install a hardware keylogger on a desktop computer or a monitoring device on a wired network. If a wireless network is not properly secured, it could be monitored without even breaking into the premises.

So in the end it's up to you to protect yourself. Laws like this are yet another reason why you should have not only good security software on your computer, but good security practices, such as not ignoring warnings like UAC prompts and not clicking on links in e-mails. And it goes further. If someone can break into your house, tamper with your computer and leave and you don't know it happened, then your computer is as insecure as if you left it on the Net with no passwords.

There's been a lot of hyperbole in the last few years about the decline of civil liberties in the United States, but I submit that nothing we've done here is as injurious to genuine privacy rights as this European policy.

If law enforcement authorities won't protect the rights of the people, at least the security industry might. Two companies, Sophos and Kaspersky, told ZDNet UK that they won't weaken their products at all to make backdoors for European law enforcement. Hats off to these companies. They ought to be knighted.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

For insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer's blog Cheap Hack.


Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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