Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

I saw something on one of my news ticklers today that talked about a new product from Symantec called Anti-Bot. On the surface, this seems like a good thing — increase the ability of the end-user to figure out if their machine’s been compromised, and avoid it if possible.

However, the implied message from the press release from Symantec is that if your machine is being used as part of a botnet, you may be implicated in anything from spam to phishing. All because your machine is compromised…?

Now IANAL, but spreading that kind of FUD almost seems like a scare tactic. Is there legal history for someone whose machine has been compromised getting drug into court to defend the themselves against actions they weren’t party to or aware of? In the real world, there’s a certain responsibility you carry — if someone slips near your pool and drowns, even if they weren’t supposed to be there and you weren’t home, you probably still bear some responsibility.

In the virtual world though, the slippery slope is much more…. slippery. While it may be a good practice to construct a virtual fence around my machines, there’s no law that says I must. And frankly, just how effective that virtual fence is might vary on any given day. As the bad guys write more (and different) bad guy code, the fence has to change. The fence around my pool (in the real world) doesn’t have to change day-to-day — the thing it’s protecting against doesn’t change.

So, “boooooo” to Symantec for taking an otherwise good idea, and wrapping it in fearmongering in order to drive sales. I appreciate the intent, but I really don’t like the method!