Greg's bite: Microsoft finally closes the Stuxnet hole
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Greg's bite: Microsoft finally closes the Stuxnet hole

By Greg Mills

Windows Stuxnet News, gleaned from around the web indicates that 40 security holes in Windows and Internet Explorer were finally patched today, including the last hole the Stuxnet worm used to infiltrate Iran's nuclear program.  

The Stuxnet worm authors, if we ever find out who wrote it, should be awarded a Pulitzer Prize as work of written computer code that changed the world and actually delayed a nasty military attack on Iran, for a period of time.  

The most recent damage analysis that has been publicly issued is that Stuxnet set Iran back at least two years in developing the nuclear bomb building capacity they are seeking. That is about the same window-of-threat reduction as an all out military attack was projected to cause.   

The wild card in all this is the possibility North Korea will sell parts or even an entire nuclear bomb to Iran in exchange for a long term oil deal. Such an end run around the arduous task of getting a nuclear weapons industry up and running is obvious and worrisome.   

Just last week it turns out, Saudi Arabia obtained two nuclear weapons from Pakistan. It seems the Saudis are more afraid of Iran getting the bomb than Israel, which has likely had the bomb for many years already. The problem is that additional players with nuclear weapons add unforeseen complications to figuring out the balance of power in the world.  

Some computer experts think the only way to be sure the Stuxnet worm is gone is to literally remove every WIndows PC, laptop and server in any way connected to Iran's nuclear project and replace them with fresh machines across the board in one fell swoop and start all over hooking everything up. The turbine for the nuclear reactor is reported to have been damaged by the worm's effect on controller circuits and must be replaced to operate the nuclear plant safely.  Thousands of plutonium centrifuges are damaged and a large quantity of plutonium contaminated by the problems related to the worm.

The insidious thing about Stuxnet is that it hides in Windows code so well it is hard to find. It lies and creates false information for operators and uses every trick in the book to reproduce and reinfect systems. Actually, replacing all those infected PCs with Macs and replacing all industrial controllers with Mac compatible controllers using all new software would make their system much more secure.  I hope US export controls are good enough to keep Macs out of the hands of Iran.

Will a Windows Slate computer be announced again? Rumors are that Ballmer is expected to re-announce iPad killing slate format computers that run various flavors of Windows.   He introduced and then scrapped their predecessors a year ago when iPad came out. The problem is that Windows is a lousy OS for slate computers for a number of reasons. That OS is not designed to be a touch user interface system. The energy usage is not compatible with a slate format device. Finally, who cares?  

Primitive slate computers that run Windows have been out since 2000 and didn't sell. The Apple iPad is safe for the foreseeable future. Rumors are that Microsoft is pushing HTML5 as the OS for apps for the latest wonder product from Redmond. Ballmer is also expected to defer app stores to individual manufacturers. This may alude to the idea that apps for one slate computer might not run on another slate computer. Hmmm, sound Microsoftish to me...

Goldman Sachs has released research notes indicating the PC sales market next year will be increasing around 8% instead of the 15% most analysts have been expecting. They expect tablet sales (iPad and knockoffs) to surge 500%. This without a viable Microsoft OS for that new market anywhere to be seen. Analysts predict that Microsoft will not only lose half of next year's projected sales, but that the proliferation of alternative operating systems that will be competing with Windows will mean actual negotiation on the price of that operating system software by Microsoft's hardware "partners." This scene, they predict, will further hurt the bottom line at Microsoft, to the tune of over five billion dollars next year alone. Running the numbers for Apple in that scenario might mean Steve Jobs could pay off the national debt as a personal favor to President Obama.

Google is working on a Chrome netbook and presumably a slate computer that uses the cloud for storage. The problem with that is the risk the cloud will have technical difficulties and lose data. I find it ironic that the push for the cloud comes at the very time flash memory and even hard drives are getting cheaper and more dependable. I may be old-fashioned, but I prefer my data under my personal control, thank you. I may be convinced someday, but that day hasn't come yet.

Sweden and Nobel Peace Prize notes. I have been smarting for a year now that I was passed over last year for my Nobel Peace Prize. I didn't do anything either; why would they give one to Obama and leave me out in the cold?  Something isn't fair in Sweden.  

Speaking of Sweden, the Wikileaking ass is sweating out his situation in a British jail. The US military is banning news sites that have run classified material from those Wikileaks. I have still never heard why the traitor Bradley Manning, a low level security analyst with a rank of private, had access to so much sensitive State Department information in the first place? Now it turns out Wikileaks has failed to provide funds for Manning's defense by court marshall, which is set at $100,000. Presumably this is before the death penally appeals are factored in.

That's Greg's bite for today.

(Greg Mills, is a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's art web site at www.gregmills.info ; his email is gregmills@mac.com )

 
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