It's time to get rid of Windows

I thought that the massive DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks that knocked Twitter and other social networks out was because of Iran's government trying to shut down its protesters. I was wrong. Hundreds of millions of Internet users were annoyed because of Windows botnet-based DDoS aimed at one (1) person.

According to security company McAfee's director of security research Dave Marcus, "This was a very targeted attack, and what the research shows is that it was aimed at one particular person, and that person's accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LiveJournal." The target is a pro-Georgian blogger, but he's still just one man.

Let me spell this out for you. Some people out there used no fewer than six Windows botnets to go after this one guy. And, in the process, they knocked out, for hours at a time, most of the major social networks.

How did this happen? It happened because Windows is an insecure piece of junk. Anyone who knows anything about security knows that this kind of disaster was only a matter of time. Windows botnets are responsible for DDoS attacks and most of e-mail spam.

You cannot secure Windows. Microsoft keeps saying that they will, and they always fail. Period. Windows has been insecure since day one and it's still going to be insecure when Windows 7 shows up.

Perhaps it's time to start blocking Windows PCs from the Internet. Sound crazy? Yes, I agree.

But, I'll tell you something else that's crazy. It's crazy that whole sections of the Internet can be shut down by a few people controlling huge Windows botnets for petty, personal reasons.

We have the technology to start locking Windows out of the Internet. You can tell when a Windows PC is trying to connect to a Web site.

OK, so we can't block them all, but perhaps we can start checking Windows PCs for up-to-date patches and minimum security settings before allowing them Internet access.

After all, some Web designers are already presenting Internet Explorer 6 users with a notice encouraging them to dump their out-of-date browser. We can use the same approach to encourage people to switch from Windows to Linux or Mac OS. Or, perhaps more to the point, shove Windows security uploads down their throats or refuse to let them connect.

We depend on the Internet. We play on it, we work on it, we live on it. If attacks like this become commonplace, and, after this foul-up I don't see any reason why they won't, we'll need to pro-actively protect it from Windows' botnets. And, if that means blocking out out-of-date Windows PCs with inadequate security settings before they can be used in an attack, then so be it.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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