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The .DOC Disaster 7 May 2002 Edition
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Governments all over the world are turning to the Internet to reduce costs and improve levels of communications between themselves and the people who they are elected to serve.

Naturally one would expect that in order to maximise the effect of their investment in computers, software, content and online systems, governments would use systems that adhered closely to open standards rather than forcing people to adopt proprietary solutions.

Alas this doesn't seem to be the case.

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About a year or so ago I started developing a new type of pulsejet engine which takes aim fair and square at the defense and recreation markets.

To find out how things are going, check out the X-Jet page on this site.

While some governments in other parts of the world are making a concerted effort to stick to "open" content formats and even embrace open source software, the New Zealand, US, British and US governments remain well-entrenched in the Microsoft camp.

I've protested (seemingly in vain) that this is ridiculous and poses a major security risk to the recipient and the sender. Only a week or two ago yet another gaping hole in MS Word was exposed that showed, once again, how a .doc file can act as a perfect vector for viruses and trojans.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • .Doc disaster... - Bahu
  • Government Documents... - Peter
  • Standardisation in Peru... - maddogmut
  • Peruvian Congressman vs... - Shannon
  • Peru example... - Tim
  • It's not all bad... - RussB
  • Peru... - Sarah
  • Re: Peru... - Shannon
  • Have Your Say

    Now, before I offend some quite innocent people working hard to build good quality online systems within government, let me say that some parts of the government's Net presence are very well done and have avoided the use of .doc files as a method for delivering content on the Web.

    However -- a quick Google query indicates that there are still almost 4,000 MS Word documents sitting online within the .govt.nz domain space.

    But NZ's politicians are not alone -- the US government has almost a quarter of a million such documents online, the Brits have nearly 80,000 and the Aussies have close to 50,000.

    Some of these documents appear to have been created using quite old versions of MS Word -- versions that were known to include random chunks of computer memory with information that might contain sensitive data from previous sessions.

    In an age of terrorism and cyberterrorism, who's going to be first to stumble on something of great strategic value hidden inside an otherwise benign-looking document?

    The longer governments delay fully embracing open standards (as opposed to proprietary systems masquerading as defacto standards), the more expensive such a move will be.

    Maybe, instead of telling us that they're going to introduce e-Government, our politicians should fess up and admit that they're actually aiming for an MS-Government with all the benefits that offers -- them.

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    Security Alerts
    Security flaw in Microsoft Office for Mac (CNet - 18/04/2002)

    A trio of MS-Office security vulns (TheReg - 10/04/2002)

    Two new "critical" bugs patched in IE (ZDNet - 01/04/2002)

    Second Java hole poses Windows risk (CNet - 20/03/2002)

    Microsoft offers patch for Java software (CNet - 06/03/2002)

    Virus Alerts
    New Klez worm squirms across Internet (CNet - 18/04/2002)

    Aphex E-mail Worm Has A Way With IRC, Instant Messenger (NewsBytes - 11/04/2002)

    'Bill Clinton' Worm Gets Around (NewsBytes - 22/03/2002)

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