Information Warfare: March 19, 2002

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The U.S. Air Force, which generally takes the lead in cyberwar matters, has warned Microsoft to improve the security of their software real fast or risk losing their biggest customer; the U.S. government. Microsoft software sales to the U.S. government (directly, and indirectly through software installed in hardware) amounts to billions of dollars a year. The government has long bought Microsoft software because it was the cheapest and easiest to install (if not the easiest to use). But as more people find their jobs dependent on the Internet, the security and reliability of Microsoft software has become an issue. And the threat is not an empty one. There is a lot of enthusiasm within the air force for the cheaper and more reliable Linux operating system. While Linux cannot run many of the games that are so popular on PCs using Microsoft operating systems, the air force sees that as a plus. And most of the business software the air force needs is available on PCs running Linux. But there is one major downside to this. China has adopted Linux as their standard operating system (for government and schools.) This means Chinese software engineers will be more familiar with Linux than with Microsoft software, and thus better able to hack Linux systems.


 


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