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May 05, 2008

Botnet Vigilantes

An opinion piece over at eweek.com correctly advises against using bot infestation techniques to plant bot-cleaning software on PCs without their owner's knowledge. A given PC's assemblage of good and bad software is so unpredictable that even a well-intentioned bot zapper could irrevocably screw up someone's computer and data. Cue the Lawyers.

It reminded me of my most recent visit to the dentist, a young woman who took over the practice from the original owner. She knows I, um, dabble in computers, and asked a question or two about what she should do to upgrade her office systems. After I dashed her first, stylish hopes—no, you shouldn't run a dental office on a MacBook Air—she tried to compare my consulting rates against her current IT consultant. I think she was looking for a possible tradeout situation: dental care for computer care. But two things immediately came to mind:

  1. Things can go horribly wrong with computers and data used by office staff when the IT guy isn't there full-time.
  2. She uses very sharp steel instruments on my body.

In the end, we decided to keep it as a purely doctor-patient relationship. There is a broader lesson there.

Posted on May 05, 2008 at 10:28 AM