Breaking the Silence

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I've ranted a couple of times about the poor standard of reporting on the subject of malware. This tends to be presented as a kind of generalised affliction – a fact of life that all computer users have to put up with. Of course, that simply isn't true: the overwhelming majority of viruses and trojans affect only Windows users – and yet the “w” word hardly ever crops up in articles on the subject.

That's bad enough – at least journalists have the excuse of ignorance. But what seems to me truly unacceptable is that even the experts in the field of security rarely make this point clear to the general public – preferring, instead, to elide over this “minor” detail. So, against that background, much kudos is due to this gentleman:

Consumers wanting to safely connect to their internet banking service should use Linux or the Apple iPhone, according to a detective inspector from the NSW Police, who was giving evidence on behalf of the NSW Government at the public hearing into Cybercrime today in Sydney.

Detective Inspector Bruce van der Graaf from the Computer Crime Investigation Unit told the hearing that he uses two rules to protect himself from cybercriminals when banking online.
The first rule, he said, was to never click on hyperlinks to the banking site and the second was to avoid Microsoft Windows.

"If you are using the internet for a commercial transaction, use a Linux boot up disk - such as Ubuntu or some of the other flavours. Puppylinux is a nice small distribution that boots up fairly quickly.

"It gives you an operating system which is perfectly clean and operates only in the memory of the computer and is a perfectly safe way of doing internet banking," van der Graaf said.

Given that the silence is finally being broken on this, surely it's time that banks themselves came clean: for the security of their customers – and themselves – they should really start warning people off Windows, as the Australian police have done. If they don't, they are being grossly negligent, and showing at best indifference and at worst contempt for the digital well-being of their customers. Who among them will be the first to break this particular silence?

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.

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