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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Perfect Virus principle #8: Openness

As indicated in my post of Monday, 11/22/2010, I am extrapolating Jeff Walker's Principles for the Perfect Application into a discussion of The Perfect Virus. Since Jeff's monograph on the subject did not anticipate stealth or suicide mechanisms, any errors or lapses into stupidity are solely my additions and should not reflect poorly on what I consider to be the biggest single contribution to software application design since the invention of computers. And Jeff, thanks for giving me permission to do surgery on your baby.
THE PRINCIPLE OF OPENNESS:  The Perfect Virus is extensible from and to legacy systems, from anything there ever was to anything there ever will be.

Remember Autocoder in the 1960s? There are still a few legacy IBM 360 applications running Autocoder emulation. Ditto for COBOL, ALGOL, Fortran, JCL (the precursor to today's scripts), and RPG. Not to mention 360 BAL. Especially  manufacturing systems still running in the rust belt. Add to that the current breed of industrial robots—laboratory and manufacturing systems with embedded processors, Iranian nuclear centrifuges (Stuxnet got'cha,eh?), air traffic control systems, power grids, synchronized traffic lights, metropolitan security systems, Novell prison-inmate tracking dinosaurs, and the old Fortran crap from ASK—and you realize how much legacy stuff is out there. As for everything there ever will be, once you crack the Microsoft Swiss-cheese security of somebody's laptop that's got a VPN set up into a non Microsoft system, you still have to deliver a virus package to that system. Then there's IBM SQL/DS and DB2, Oracle, Informix, Ingres, MySQL, Postgres, and SQLserver RDBMSs. We're still with legacy systems. Get into today's phone switches, or roach a Cisco router, and you can make anybody think you're somebody else. Why do you think China knocked off Cisco once they got Cisco's keys to the kingdom (see Richard Clarke's Cyber War for the story behind the WSJ story)?

Want new stuff? How about non-SQL/non-relational DBMSs like MongoDB or Cassandra, or Object-oriented database systems (OODBMSs) if they ever hit prime time? And not all programming is linear in nature. You have vector architectures from CRAY, or my buddies in Boulder, CO. and their Massively Parallel system that Chief Technology Officer and founder Kevin Howard assures me will run circles around the co-called Chinese "fastest supercomputer in the world." And don't let me get started on quantum computers.

"Open" is easy to say and damned hard to deliver. When I say "anything there ever was to anything there ever will be" I truly mean it. That's why principle #7, Black Box Portability, really is The Holy Grail for The Perfect Virus. Because your little cyber superbug going to have to step into a world that may not think linearly. And the Ultimate Perfect Virus will do what Piers Anthony's did in his novel Macroscope. The Ultimate Perfect Virus may nail the human brain. I've actually had some time to think about that one, having spent the last few decades in…guerrilla warfare advertising. Ask Tom Siebel's friends how he reacted to Marc Benioff's Salesforce.com attack ads that I created. Some say it drove him permanently insane. From interviews with people where were there, my "We Kick ASK" ad for Oracle had the same effect on Sandy Kurtzig when she first saw it.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?