VS.NET promotes bad code

Rapid Application Development systems tend to promote the writing of bad code. In what follows I’m going to use VS.NET (2003) as an example, simply because it’s probably the most used. I’m also going to take the writing of client database code as the main example, because it is so important and because it represents a large part of development time, if done the right way and hardly no development time if done the VS.NET way.
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Government info sites don’t work

There’s a relatively new site called “www.ready.gov” that the Department of Homeland Security has set up to keep the American people informed on what they do and how the people should prepare themselves for terrorist onslaughts, natural disasters and war and stuff. As with most such government initiatives, I see a lot of problems. First and foremost that they don’t really try to inform people in a useful way, they try to pacify people to keep them from becoming upset. In other words, they do their best to keep people un-informed.
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More on peroxide

Tonight: The London police chief tonight said the order to shoot stands firm and even though they regret the mistake, more people can expect to be shot.

“It’s still happening out there, there are still officers having to make those calls as we speak, he said, adding: “Somebody else could be shot.”

I can’t believe this. Is this really happening?

2005-07-26: Bruce Schneier says about the same thing, but more.

Peroxide and strip, or die

It’s time for all good law-abiding citizens with a darkish exterior and heavy clothing to go into hiding or peroxide themselves into a more non-threatening color. Or at least avoid public transport. Or being outdoors. It’s “shoot on sight” if you *look* like a terrorist. See the quote below from the Jerusalem Post.
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Don’t switch off mobile phone networks, extend them

Terrorists may talk to each other using mobile phones, just like any other people in this world. They may even use them, theoretically, to set off bombs from a distance. This has led governments to consider switching off mobile phone networks after terrorist attacks. In the same vein, allowing the use of mobile phones on airplanes in flight worries them a lot. This is nonsensical for a number of reasons.
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Is it due diligence to avoid US hosting providers?

I just read a letter to the editor by Richard Stallman in Communications of the ACM, May 2005, where he points out that whatever the privacy policy of a website, the USA PATRIOT act (or USA PAT RIOT act as he calls it) allows collection by law enforcement of any private information without a warrant. His point is that the “privacy seal” advocated by some, means nothing.

US companies are subject to this act in any case, but for us non-US residents and non-US companies, it seems an utterly bad idea to host our data on American based ISPs, since all of a sudden our data can be collected by the US government without a warrant or even without us knowing about it. The ISP can’t even tell us, can they?

Does this mean that applying prudent IT security principles would prohibit any non-US based company from using any US-based hosting provider? Or maybe even any hosting provider with a US-based company anywhere in the ownership chain?

It seems that way to me.
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Have they forgotten about PKC’s and SSL?

I just read an article in IEEE Computer, June 2005, called “Security Technologies Go Phishing”. It’s about new ways of stopping phishing attacks. Among other things, they present a system that lets a bank (for instance) have their users choose a picture from an album. That picture is then included in email that the bank sends out, so the user knows that the email is for real and not spoofed. To me, there are many things wrong with this idea and any similar developments. (Please note: the article mentions other interesting systems and the given company has other interesting products. I’m only picking on this one idea, here.)
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Smart cards should have keypads and beepers

Increasingly, computers are used to write pharmaceutical prescriptions and other medical documents. In most cases, the “signing” of these documents is a sad affair involving some simple checking of checkboxes and clicking of buttons. The application usually takes it from there, attesting to anyone willing to believe it that the logged on user (whoever that may be in reality) clicked the click and thereby took responsibility for the whole thing.

In more sophisticated systems, an actual digital signature is applied to the prescription. If we’re lucky, it’s also done in the right way (except I’ve never heard of a system doing it right), with digital signatures. If we’re even more lucky, that digital signature is not kept on the computer, a floppy, a USB flash memory or a dumb card (a magnetic stripe card or memory card), but on a smart card with microprocessor. But even then, we’re far from safe.
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The Semantics of Signing

When we apply a digital signature to a data structure, we only apply it to the data actually present in the structure. But most of that data is only meaningful in relation to external data tables, and used with certain applications, which can change without influencing the signature on the data structure. This is a serious problem in many application areas, but in none as much as in medical informatics.
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