Re: [fw-wiz] How to Save The World

From: Crispin Cowan (
Date: 12/13/04

  • Next message: Devdas Bhagat: "Re: [fw-wiz] How to Save The World"
    To: "Marcus J. Ranum" <>
    Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2004 19:25:59 -0800

    Marcus J. Ranum wrote:

    >If you drink a couple of shots of tequila to clear your mind of
    >preconceptions and really think about this Internet Security
    >stuff, there's a couple of glaringly obvious alternatives that we,
    >as an industry, have chosen to not explore. What is the cost
    >of enumerating viruses and malware and running antivirus
    >software ($19/year/desktop...) versus the cost of telling the
    >system exactly what code you want to allow to run. (Hmmm,
    >let's see - I could define my desktop computer's "allow"
    >list in 3 seconds: Eudora, Opera, Photoshop, Powerpoint,
    >Word, and directory toolkit)
    Put down the tequila :)

    Immunix's SubDomain product does pretty much exactly that. While the
    security benefits are intuitively obvious, and you would /think/ that it
    would be that simple, it is not. The hard part of this approach is:

        * Making it actually be simple to enumerate the "allowed" operations
          that your computer should do. The direct/obvious approach can a
          long time to write out. Immunix makes it fast and simple.
        * Making the enumeration flexible enough so that it doesn't break
          next Tuesday when you add something. Immunix does that, too.

    >For a very long time, now, the industry has been moving
    >away from "custom code" based on the premise that
    >software is a commodity and should be treated as
    >such. But that is obviously an inaccurate premise. If
    >you question the premise that software is a commodity,
    >you need to question all the "facts" that follow from it.
    I think it is pretty hard to make the case that custom software is often
    going to be cheaper than commodity software. The reality distortion
    field here is brought to you by the much more silly notion of
    standardizing on software from a particular vendor in Redmond. There are
    two things wrong with that:

        * the support costs of patching their particularly atrocious
          software are much higher than they need to be
        * it is not a "commodity" any more if you give one vendor monopoly
          control on the supply, and thus total control of the price

    So lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. "Commodity" good.
    "Single source commodity" bad :)


    Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
    CTO, Immunix
    firewall-wizards mailing list

  • Next message: Devdas Bhagat: "Re: [fw-wiz] How to Save The World"