Windows Security Analogy


Here’s an analogy for the Windows users trying to fight malware. Imagine that you live in a place where everyone’s houses are built out of straw, and there is a wave of arson sweeping the town. Now imagine that some people, after having their houses burnt down a few times, decided to build their house out of stone instead of straw.

Here’s a conversation between an owner of a stone house and one of the regular townfolk who is looking to protect their straw house:

Stone Hey, neighbor, the ruffians are coming through again, you may want to rebuild your house with stone instead of straw. The fire sticks they throw won’t even burn my house at all. All I have to do is replace a stone or two every few months and things are solid.

And since I’ve stopped worrying about tending to my burnt straw house, I’ve been able to spend more time with the kids and get more reading in.

Straw: Well, that’s nice and all, but protecting a straw house isn’t really that difficult. All I have to do is purchase a team of construction workers to carve a moat around my land that extends 50 yards out. I then just simply erect a electric fence that zaps people if they come too close. Then I post a guard outside that looks for fire-weilding houligans. Then, to top it off, I put temperature sensors inside to tell if the house is burning – then robots come out and douse the flame with water. So, as you can see…it’s not a problem really.

Hey, you want to help me put up this barbed wire on my fence?

Stone: Nah, man….sorry. I am heading to my daughter’s soccer game. Good luck with your security.

This to me highlights the difference between the average user protecting their systems using Windows vs. them using Linux or OS X. Ask yourself one question:

Do you want to spend your time protecting your computer, or using it?

I’m in the use category. People have too much on their plates to spend time stacking layer upon layer in front of Windows so that they can protect themselves from flawed design.

Can Windows be secured? Sure it can – without a doubt. I ran it for years without a single incident – but that was because I was having fun protecting it (as many here do). This is people working on their tools. I don’t want to fix tools. I want to use them. In my view, a computer should be transparent and unimportant. What we do with them is what matters. The more time we spend fixing and defending our tools the less time we spend getting anything done with them.

So to all of you out there who are getting slightly tired of the rat race, consider going with an OS that will let you work with it rather than require you to babysit it constantly. Consider OS X. Consider Linux. Just like building a stone house there’ll be a learning curve, but it’ll be worth it.

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