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Notes on the subject of Trust

Living without antivirus software

[adsense:728x15:5447199818]Ok, I'll admit it. I've been living dangerously for the last several years.

To be blunt: I refused to install any kind of antivirus or personal firewall software on most of my computers (but see Update 1/1/2012, below.) This included a Windows XP Home system that was used by my children as a web surfing / email / game system. I suffered zero infections during this time. (The only time I ever suffered a malware infection was before, when I did rely on Norton Antivirus to protect the kids' computer.)

Why do I refuse to use these massively popular widely-used products? Simple. I am convinced that in my case, they may cause more harm than good, and that they foster a false sense of security - leading some users to engage in riskier behavior.

Further, antivirus software is almost always behind the curve - by definition, the antivirus people are playing catch-up with the malware writers. It's a good living for them, but I choose not to contribute to it.

As a software developer, I cannot afford any downtime due to buggy software, and yes - antivirus software has bugs. Not long ago, one major antivirus package ran amok, causing widespread damage by deleting harmless user data and programs.

A new twist on link requests

I must say I found this one to be rather unusual. It appears to be a variation on the "paid post" or "paid review" theme - except the requester writes the content rather than paying the webmaster to write content linking to the requester's site.

[Name Snipped] sent a message using the contact form at

I ran across your site today as I was searching for some computer info. On Google. Your site is fabulous and certainly grabbed my attention!

Know thy enemy

This paper on is an excellent discussion of web application security issues. Read it and weep.

Trust Never Sleeps

Posted in

It's becoming apparent to me (slow thinker that I am) that 2007 is shaping up to be a year in which 'trust' becomes the central theme in many ways:

Why do I think trust is becoming a watchword?

How to evaluate a web site

I found this page over on the UC Berkeley Library site describing a set of steps to use in evaulating web pages - how to determine whether the information on the page should be trusted. The guide offers a list of suggested questions to ask, and the implications associated with the answer to those questions.

This can help you develop a critical eye when visiting a web page.

Antivirus software runs wild; damages user files.

Yes, Virginia, anti-virus software has bugs too!

For over five hours Friday, McAfee's anti-virus software erroneously flagged hundreds of legitimate executables as a malicious virus, leading some customers to quarantine or delete the offending files and render applications such as Microsoft Excel inoperative.

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