It’s hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire.
Computers, and computing, are broken.This is absolutely, 100% true. Years ago I was at a company that found a security bug in the Unix Remote Procedure Call (RPC) routine. It was bad, allowing J. Random Hacker to remotely take over your server. It took me weeks to chase down the security team at a large company that really should have known better. At the end of the day, they didn't fix it. The reason?
The code is really old and nobody here really understands how it works. We're afraid that if we fix this we will actually break bigger things.
This is an excellent (if long) article about just how bad things are. And this has the ring of truth:
For a bunch of us, especially those who had followed security and the warrantless wiretapping cases, the revelations weren’t big surprises. We didn’t know the specifics, but people who keep an eye on software knew computer technology was sick and broken. We’ve known for years that those who want to take advantage of that fact tend to circle like buzzards. The NSA wasn’t, and isn’t, the great predator of the internet, it’s just the biggest scavenger around. It isn’t doing so well because they are all powerful math wizards of doom.
The NSA is doing so well because software is bullshit.
Hat tip: American Digest.