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I was fascinated by the pseudo-conservative fantasy that every individual should be totally free to do what he or she chooses to as long as the individual is willing to suffer the potential consequences. Today's 'conservatism' is more reasonably termed 'Right Libertarianism' (yes, there are also several flavors of 'Left Libertarianism' as well). The Right Libertarianism takes essentially Ayn Rand's Objectivist view that each individual should be free to strategize her behavior solely to increase her own perceived best interests - which Rand assures us are measured in units with a dollar sign (the only 'value' or morality she advocates). Conservatives ignore (or fail to understand) that, unless you live alone in the deep woods or on an otherwise deserted island, almost everything you do has consequences not only for yourself, but for others, sometimes the entire community or society, as well. You can't pretend that selfish individualism is the only virtue and that a sense of community is a vice. If I were to assume any of my job applicants thought like Ole Eichhorn and Alice, I would be a bloody fool to hire them in any position where their work computer is linked into the corporate intranet. If I found any of my employees who believed in that philosophy, I'd have to decide either to move them to a job that does not require interconnectivity or I'd have to replace them faster than a ZagNut bar lasts in the hand of a fat boy. It is extremely rare to find any computer that, if infected with a sufficiently clever enough virus, won't continue to spread the infection, either by emailing everybody in the personal or corporate address books copies of the dancing bunny email, or simply infecting common servers which would, in turn pass it along. Remember that EVERYBODY will encounter a multitude of variations of the dancing bunny link (some fiendishly clever and virtually irresistable) and that even top-tier programmers, let alone the non-technical user community, are going to be snagged at least some times. The object of security and regulations is not to protect an individual from her own stupidity, carelessness, or lack of perfect knowledge and an ability to invariably make perfectly rational decisions (the latter two being a core tenet of Right Libertarianism, unregulated laissez-faire free markets, and Randian Objectivism), but to protect the rest of the community from having to suffer the consequences of harmful individual actions. In other words, I could care less if a mine owner ignores or violates safety regulations as long as the owner is working the mine alone. But, the minute he hires employees and sends them unknowingly into his unsafe mine, it is no longer a question of the individual's right to be free of regulations. If anybody cares to look up the PCL-R 20-question test to diagnose psychopaths (Professor Robert Hare developed this test and it is the gold standard around the world - and is the test used by everybody from psychiatrists to FBI profilers) and compared it question by question with Ayn Rand's philosophy or the Cato Institute's multitudinous position papers, you would come to the inescapable conclusion that the radical individualism that is currently worshiped by today's conservatives is a social and political system that basically elevates psychopathy as the only value set that is politically and ideologically accepted, and requires that the "ultimate free person" is a psychopath (or at least is willing to emulate psychopaths in his behavior). As a programmer with 35 years of experience (the last 26 as a consultant to Fortune 50 companies architecting, designing and coding mission critical enterprise applications), I feel that we should be considering any and every way to block the potential harm of dancing bunny attacks and all other current exploits, and intently working on finding newer defenses as the black hats continue to find newer exploits.
Commented Jun 30, 2011 on
The Dancing Bunnies Problem
The Dancing Bunnies Problem
In an era of instant online worldwide connectivity, protecting users from themselves is a lot harder than it used to be. For one thing, full trust can't be trusted. And then there are all those dancing bunnies to contend with: What's the dancing bunnies problem? It's a description of what ha...
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