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SOBIG_F [25 Aug 2003|05:38pm]

I am no expert on the Irish Potato Famine. I couldn't tell you when it happened. I did minor in history, but not Irish history. I am sure that somewhere, given the current literary hipster trend toward hyper-specific histories of things usually taken for granted like salt, tobacco and swords; and the fact that the Irish Potato Famine was calamitous, not trivial, there is a degree program in Irish Potato Famine Studies I could enroll in. But I'm just not that interested, usually.

Today I'm interested because of your friend and mine, SOBIG_F. This worm and its predecessors were able to spread so quickly largely because everyone uses the same operating system. I mean everyone in the sense you meant it in high school when describing who was going to be at some party.

A worm just doesn't have to be that smart to exploit the same security problem over and over. When the response of its prey is entirely predictable, its job is quite easy.

Most of what I don't know about the Irish Potato Famine came from the reading I have done about the importance of biodiversity. All the potatoes got wiped out because they were all the same kind of potato vulnerable to the same kind of disease. Even the Family Potatohead can understand the parallel here.

Fortunately, a solution is readily available: Use a different operating system. I use GNU/Linux and am entirely happy with it, for what that's worth. I will explain its many advantages and admit some disadvantages some other time — the point here is that we appear to have yet another case in our society when diversity is a good, even necessary thing.

SOBIG_F only directly affected MS Windows machines. Because there are so many MS Windows machines on the Internet, it was able to do serious economic damage and cause massive Carrot-Top-like annoyance to even those of us who do not use MS Windows. If we had had greater operating system diversity, we could have avoided the e-mail "famine."

I still haven't seen this "wicked screensaver" either.

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