Outlook Ex. has no place on a business system.

  LastChip 11:29 05 Aug 2004

Says John McCormick, a respected security professional. Even Outlook is a non starter as far as he is concerned.

click here for the full story and if you want to skip the technical bits, scroll down to "Final Word".

  Baledor 12:02 05 Aug 2004

listing its vulnerabilities is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Hackers (or people with malicious intent) will write applications for the most popular browser, as a terrorist will plant a bomb within a crowded area to affect most people as possible.

As an effective communication medium I find it hard to understand how a "respected security professional" can dismiss such a tool.

As hackers write applications to expose vulnerabilities in systems, Microsoft will write patches to correct it, as long as you keep abreast of the security issues, firewalls and anti-virus, I do not believe Outlook is no less safe than browsing the internet.

  Gingermum 21:33 05 Aug 2004

If you want to criticise Bill for the obscene price of his software, I'm with you. But stop knocking his software. I've been using OE and IE for over 8 years and I've never had a problem, despite being a heavy user, but then I do keep on top of updates and viruses. I have friends who throw their hands up in horror, but they've had more problems than me. The problem here is user education. There are loads of features in these programs that you can use to protect yourself.

I like Baledor's analogy of terrorists and bombs. Considering that IE has an approximate 75% market share and OE and Outlook have over a 50% market share between them, it's hardly surprising they are always getting bombed. (No exact statistics available!) The other's are only safer because they aren't targeted.

  LastChip 22:27 05 Aug 2004

I'm offering you a view from a security professional. This sort of statement is bound to be controversial, which is why I posted it in Speakers Corner.

You are however misguided in one respect.

Windows will always be more insecure than Linux or Unix for example, because Mr Gates and his merry men have designed a system to try to be "all things to all people". As a result, many of the components that would be "stand alone" in other systems, are tightly integrated into Windows. This makes it far more difficult to deal with security issues as they come to light, compared to a system that has stand alone additional applications, where if security problems are found, you only have to deal with the affected program, NOT the whole operating system.

I read recently, XP has about 35 million lines of code. I don't know how accurate that is, but assuming it to be true, imagine working your way through that to try and fix an issue. More to the point, you may fix the issue at one point and either; it breaks something else further in the system, or, you miss (or even create) another vulnerability further on. And I think this is the battle that Microsoft faces.

Nobody's suggesting it's easy!

  Forum Editor 23:07 05 Aug 2004

not to use Outlook Express. Outlook is different - so many people use it that it would be unreasonable to expect them all to stop. The otrher problem is that there just isn't anything else that's as friendly to use and has as many useful features. Find me something like that and I'll be your friend for life. It would have to be more secure than Outlook 2003 though.

  €dstowe 08:59 06 Aug 2004

Have you noticed that as alternative browsers and mail clients are becoming more popular that security updates for them are becoming more frequent (Firefox, Opera, Thunderbird).

There's no point in these evil hackers etc writing malicious code for applications no-one uses and, as a browser or whatever becomes ever more popular then attempts to destroy it will be come ever more strong. So, when (or if) Firefox takes over IE in the popularity stakes, then IE will be less liable to attacks and it will then again be the browser of choice (until the tables turn again).


  Forum Editor 19:58 06 Aug 2004

Where are you likely to try for a meal?

A huge shoal of IE fish?

or a few nippy little Operafish?

Too many people are getting a little too stressed about security these days. I know it's a worry, but the tools you need are readily available and easy to install and use. With a modicum of commonsense it's not that difficult to avoid trouble, and if you encounter something that goes bump in the cyber night you know where to come for help.

It's summer, relax and enjoy the warm days and evenings - it will be autumn soon enough, and we can all huddle around our machines and talk about nasties then.

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