Safe To Use

Safe --- ?RonGoldman 7 Dec 2001

. . . when a person chooses to share their life (TheContextOfOurLives) with others they have every right to demand that the technology involved will keep them safe from harm.

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Everyone has a fundamental right to safety.

As we trust more and more of our lives to our technology it is vitally important that our technology be designed to keep our online information safe. We should not have to be afraid that exchanging documents or email with a friend will cause harm to our electronic self.

We also should not have to fear that someone else can commandeer our online identity and besmirch our reputation by impersonating us.

Current computer software is often like a house with the front door wide open; it seems designed more to empower malicious ne'er-do-wells then to keep us safe. We are continually reading in the news about some new computer virus or worm wreaking havoc in the online world. The world's largest software company seems to supply the most unsafe software.

While it is probably impossible to create a software application that is totally safe, it is straightforward to do vastly better than is currently done. The basics of security, such as preventing buffer overruns and setting defaults to disable dangerous features, are well known and should always be used in practice. The vast majority of people will never want to have a macro in a text file or spreadsheet that automatically sends email to everyone in their address book. For those few that do, their software can ask them for permission.

Another aspect of safety is from ourselves: our software should warn us before we do anything that is potentially damaging and unrecoverable such as deleting all of our files.


Build software that by default will protect itself (and hence us) from any malicious attacks that might be launched against it.

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Security is closely related to privacy (PrivacyGradient) and encryption (PrivateConversation).


Last edited December 24, 2002
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