The state of the security union

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By Joseph Wentzel

As I look back over the years, one thing stands out. Sales people selling things people don’t need or can’t afford. It hasn’t just been the fear of having your wife run down by a huge lorry as her 3.5 litre six-cylinder car wouldn’t accelerate as fast as a V8 or being hopelessly antiquated with last year’s model of something. It is the fear of not being secure. Hackers in our PCs that will destroy everything that we have.

We have all heard the security fears, in nearly every aspect of our lives. We give in to it. Why else would we all be taking off our shoes when we fly to or from the United States? As I write this the Murray Street Mall in Perth, Australia, is closed down by police due to a suspicious package. Some of these security concerns are very real. Some of them will probably end up being a backpack left behind.

Not too long ago, I was doing a bit of shopping in either a Circuit City or Best Buy (this was in America, but you can pretend it was Harvey Norman or JB HiFi). I couldn’t help overhearing a lady purchasing a laptop for her teenage son to do school work on. There was a great special on one with very decent specs for the time and costing about $400 ($475AUD). Of course the salesperson was very helpful, but also fear mongering. She would need anti-virus, as there is just so much malware on the Internet, Anti-spyware to keep snoops from reading her financial data over the web, a personal firewall to keep her home safe from bad guys entering over her cable connection and so on.

To be fair, she did need protection, but was this really right? Did she have to spend an extra $200 to allow a laptop to be safely used? Did she really need to pony up another $200 or so for MS Office? This simple $400 computer was going to set her back over $800. A used car salesman would be green with envy…Click here to read full article.

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