|Do YOU know the difference between a TOOL and an APPLIANCE?|
Pay attention, you’re about to read something vitally important: COMPUTERS ARE NOT APPLIANCES. THEY ARE TOOLS. Tools require that their user be skilled. Tools require education and training to use. Tools require a level of involvement beyond that of an appliance because "tool use" carries with it an inherent danger. To understand the difference between tools and appliances, simply consider for a moment the number of "important safety warnings" found in the user manual of, say, your average refrigerator, versus, say, the number found embossed on the side of your average ladder.
And yet, over the past decade, the computer industry has deliberately ignored the nature of its product. It has attempted to grind off the sharp edges, to put padding on the corners, and to make a "consumer safe" appliance from these inherently dangerous tools.
The current state of security on the Internet is simply reaping the seeds we have sown.
Computers are not appliances. If something goes wrong with your refrigerator, it doesn’t attack your neighbor’s microwave. If you don’t patch your toaster oven, the chance that it will join up with other toaster ovens in a denial of service attack against the White House is negligible. Yet we persist in marketing computers in a way that presents their operation as requiring the same degree of knowledge and skill as is required to operate a toaster oven.
Beyond the simple fact that computers are tools, and thus requiring more involved and knowledgeable operators, computer use in the twenty-first century is very network-centric. Thus, irresponsible and dangerous behavior on the part of an untrained user can have serious repercussions for, quite literally, millions of others. We don’t allow untrained and inexperienced drivers onto our streets, but any yokel with $9.95 a month can get on the Internet.
The time has come for change. Users cannot continue to proxy the responsibility for their security to others. If they’re going to use this tool, they need to be trained or they need to pull the plug (or have the plug pulled for them).
Do YOU know the difference between a TOOL and an APPLIANCE?