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September 2007

Bruce Schneier, Marcus Ranum debate home users and security

Home users: a public health problem? Bruce Schneier Point To the average home user, security is an intractable problem. Microsoft has made great strides improving the security of its operating system out of the box, but there is still a dizzying array of rules, options and choices users have to make. How should they configure their antivirus program? What sort of backup regime should they employ? What are the best settings for their wireless network? And so on. How is it possible that we in the computer industry have foisted on people a product that is so difficult to use securely, it requires so many add-ons? It's even worse than that. We have sold the average computer user a bill of goods. In our race for an ever-increasing market, we have convinced every person that he needs a computer. We have provided application after application--IM, peer-to-peer file sharing, eBay, Facebook--to make computers useful and enjoyable to the home user. At the same time, we've made them so difficult to maintain that only a trained sysadmin can...

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