I hate antivirus companies…


Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 19.38.09…because,

  • they exaggerate mild to non-existent threats (viruses on Mac, Linux)
  • they sell false assurance (no, your “endpoint security suite” won’t protect you against targeted spear-fishing attacks using novel malware, zero-day vulnerabilities or misconfigured or unpatched network hardware and servers);
  • their software is badly-written, bloated and generally makes using computers more painful.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 19.33.35Most of all, their raison d’etre is to exploit (1) the fear and lack of understanding of ordinary computer users, and (2) the IT manager’s desire to “do something” to mitigate threats.

Here’s what you should do instead of buying antivirus software:

  • use a Linux distribution (or, if you must, a Mac) rather than Windows;
  • keep your operating system (whichever one you choose) and application software updated (or fully “patched”);
  • Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 19.36.37make sure your servers, clients and network infrastructure is properly configured and fully patched. If you’re a home user, buy a router from a company that releases regular firmware updates, activate the firewall on your router and be sure to use WPA2 wireless encryption with a strong passkey. Also be aware that your data is as vulnerable as the services you use – use strong passwords unique to every service and be aware that most companies can’t be trusted to protect your data. If you’re a company – hire competent people!
  • be aware that leaving the security of your network, devices or data to others is risky – most people willing to set up your IT infrastructure are incompetent, liars, or both (and, unfortunately, that goes for your company’s IT department);
  • most importantly – don’t ever believe that your network, devices or data are safe. The best you can do is minimise the risk – and that takes effort.

I am not an expert and I don’t usually share my views on these sorts of topics. But I was reading stuff on Mac security software and became so irritated that I had to get this out of my system.

Solzhenitsyn on violence and falsehood


“We shall be told: what can literature possibly do against the ruthless onslaught of open violence? But let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE.”


Important critique of Noakes’s irresponsibility


Nathan Geffen has written a very important critique of Tim Noakes’s increasingly wild and conspiratorial claims. Noakes has not only promoted his unproven dietary advice as evidence-based, but portrayed the majority view and criticism of his claims as a “medical hoax”. His vocal supporters on social media tend to be non-scientists who do not cite evidence, but Noakes’s credentials, showing just how irresponsible an abuse of his scientific reputation his unsupported – and now actively dangerous anti-science – claims are. He should be held to account by the scientific and academic community for this betrayal of the trust placed in him and for the damage he is doing to public health and the public understanding of science.