[LINK] Billyfish Is Back
Wed, 21 Nov 2001 17:40:39 +1100
Extracted item provided for information.
Source:NewsScan Daily, 20 November 2001 ("Above The Fold")
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Billyfish Is Back
Want to let the U.S. Department of Justice know you're disappointed
with the proposed settlement of the Microsoft antitrust case?
Billyfish is back to help. Meaner than ever with jaws open and teeth
bared, an updated version of our popular Billyfish icon can be
downloaded at: http://www.netaction.org>.
Longtime NetAction Notes readers may recall that we first introduced
Billyfish in 1997 to help focus attention on Microsoft's growing
monopolization of the Internet. Now that it's apparent the U.S.
Department of Justice can't be counted on to stop the Microsoft
monopoly, we've brought an updated version of Billyfish back to
encourage Internet users to voice their objections to the proposed
The Internet has grown by leaps and bounds since NetAction first
mobilized Internet users to demand strong enforcement of antitrust
laws against Microsoft. We started the campaign by releasing a
survey report that documented how Microsoft's marketing strategy was
preventing consumers from choosing the browser they use to access the
World Wide Web,* and we encouraged consumers to show their support
for antitrust enforcement by displaying our Billyfish icon on web
The Justice Department did act, and eventually prevailed: Microsoft
was found guilty of anti-competitive behavior. But that's where the
good news ends. The DOJ's proposed settlement
makes it clear that the current administration lacks the will to
enforce the nation's antitrust laws by imposing an appropriate
remedy. If the settlement is confirmed, Microsoft's monopoly will
In a recent article,
Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor quipped that the settlement
seems to have been written by Microsoft's lawyers. "Every time you
read an item that suggests actual restraint on Microsoft's behavior,
you find weasel language elsewhere that undermines the supposed
concession," he wrote. "This thing isn't just full of loopholes. It's
But the settlement is not yet final, so Internet users still have a
chance to convince Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that Microsoft's
punishment should fit the crime. Under the Tunney Act, Judge
Kollar-Kotelly is required to review the settlement to ensure that it
is in the public interest. As part of that review, there will be a
60-day period of public comment, starting when the proposed
settlement is published in the Federal Register.
NetAction will provide more information on the public comment process
as soon as the proposed settlement is published in the Federal
Register. Meanwhile, we urge readers to spread the word that
Microsoft's monopoly must be stopped by displaying our updated
Billyfish icon on web sites, and forwarding this article to other
concerned Internet users.
* NetAction's 1997 survey
<http://www.netaction.org/msoft/browsers.html> found that the top
three ISPs serving the U.S. consumer market at that time were all
bundling Microsoft's Internet Explorer into their start-up software,
and that all three had agreements with Microsoft that specified IE as
the browser customers receive. Only one of the three top ISPs even
told customers that they had the option of downloading Netscape
Navigator as an alternative to IE. When we conducted a follow up
survey one year later we found that despite the initiation of the
DOJ's lawsuit, the situation had gotten worse. Almost none of the
largest ISPs even gave consumers the option of using an alternative
to IE, and many were not providing technical support to consumers who
installed Netscape Navigator or an alternative browser on their own
** NetAction subsequently published several other articles and
reports on Microsoft. An archive of these documents is at:
Is Your Outlook Secure?
In the last issue of NetAction Notes
<http://www.netaction.org/notes/notes76.html> we offered readers a
checklist of computer security basics, including the need for keeping
anti-virus software up-to-date. The article prompted a heated reply
from reader John Poltorak, who pointed out that we had neglected to
include one important piece of information: the vast majority of
Internet viruses can be avoided by simply not using Microsoft Outlook
With John's permission, we are including some of his comments in this
issue to expand on this important point. He wrote:
"Virtually every Internet virus and/or worm causing widespread damage
today has been propagated by using Microsoft software, principally
Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Internet Information Server. It is
these two programs which are badly designed and extremely insecure
which should be targeted as virus launchers, which is what they are."
In a later message he added, "Using Outlook as a mail client is like
going on holiday and leaving your house not only unlocked, but
leaving the doors and windows wide open."
Of course, as the article above this suggests, avoiding Microsoft's
products isn't easy since the company has monopolized the market
through anti-competitive behavior. In retail stores where most
consumers buy computers, PCs are all sold with Windows pre-installed
and Outlook and IE featured prominently on the desktop.
So what can you do if you don't want to use Outlook for your email?
If you use Netscape Navigator as your web browser, one option is to
use the built-in Communicator browser for your email. If it wasn't
pre-installed on your computer, see:
Another option is Qualcomm's Eudora, a stand-alone email browser that
is available in both free and paid modes. See:
Either option will reduce -- but not completely eliminate -- your
vulnerability to attacks from viruses designed to propagate through
Outlook. But this is by no means the only security issue to be
concerned about if you are using Microsoft software or the Windows
Microsoft's products are simply more vulnerable to a wide range of
security problems. There are two competing explanations for this.
One explanation is that malicious activity is focused on Microsoft
because its products are so widely used. According to this viewpoint,
the people who create viruses and look for security holes in software
target Windows applications because they can do the most damage by
attacking vulnerabilities in software installed on the vast majority
of computers. Another explanation is that Windows-based software is
inherently less secure because, as a virtual monopoly, Microsoft
simply has no reason to bother improving its products.
These explanations are not mutually exclusive, of course, but
Microsoft's recent move to a "blame the messenger" strategy gives
weight to the latter explanation.
In a recent essay that has generated some controversy among computer
security professionals, Microsoft security manager Scott Culp
denounced researchers who publicize information about software
security flaws as "information anarchists," and asserted that
computers would be more secure if these researchers simply stopped
publicizing their results.
A balanced explanation of this controversy was published recently by
Bruce Schneier. See "Full Disclosure" at
<http://www.counterpane.com/crypto-gram.html>. The article includes a
link to Culp's essay and numerous other resources on this issue.
Since most Internet users are not security experts, the best strategy
is simply to avoid Microsoft's products as much as possible. For
information on available alternatives to Microsoft's software
products, see The Microsoft Boycott Campaign web site at:
phone +61 2 6241 7659