March 10, 2005

Tegam uses courts to signal bad security

In the ongoing thread of Adam's question - how do we signal good security - it's important to also list signals of bad security. CoCo writes that Tegam, a French anti-virus maker, has secured a conviction against a security researcher for reverse engineering and publishing weaknesses.

This seems to be a signal that Tegam has bad security. If they had good security, then why would they care what a security researcher said? They could just show him to be wrong. Or fix it.

There are two other possibilities. Firstly, Tegam has bad security, and they know it. This is the most likely, and their aggressive focus on preserving the revenue base would perhaps lead them to prefer suppression of future researches into the product. CoCo points to a claim that Tegam accused the researcher of being a terrorist in a French advertisement, which indicates an attempt to disguise the suppression and validate it in the minds of their buying public. In French and google translates to quixotic english. Tegam responds that this article makes their case, but comments by flacks do no such thing. However the response makes for interesting reading and may balance their case.

Alternatively (secondly) they just don't know. And, I don't think we need to show the proof of "don't know" is equivalent to "insecure."

CoCo also comments on how the chilling effect will raise insecurity in general. But if enough companies decline to pursue avenues of prosecution, this might balance out in our favour: we might then end up with a new signal of those that prosecute and those that do not.

Texas Instruments recently signalled desire for good security in the RFID breach, as well as an understanding of the risks to the user. Tegam has signalled the reverse. Are they saying that their product has known weaknesses, and they wish to hide these from the users? You be the judge, and while you're at it, ponder on which side of this fence your own company sits?

Posted by iang at March 10, 2005 06:35 AM | TrackBack

I see large law cases developing where companies go after hackers and in turn are sued for producing substandard produces. In this case the companies will provide the proof to the their own lawsuit. Since most folks make claims about their products if these claims are proven to be untrue or the product causes injury then they have liability. They may have public shareholders who have been damaged as well. I hope that some attorney will read these cases and start to hire hackers to crack some security.

Posted by: Jimbo at March 10, 2005 09:14 PM
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