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Take it “as is”
Monday, April 10, 2017
Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze!
Song from the animated film "The Lion King"
Today most programs are made available AS IS. That means that those behind a program—the development company, individual programmers and the distributor—are not liable to users for any problems that may arise when that program is in operation. Most users don’t think this is right and get outraged: why does a developer, who takes money for a program, not want to be responsible for problems like undetected Trojans and the damage they cause?
Moreover, many people don't like it that a buyer who purchases software AS IS and ends up with a program that may contain defects can't even file a complaint, a situation that appears to encourage the production of substandard software products.
Claims that no warranty can be provided because of a product’s complexity surely can't be considered reasonable. A modern airplane is equipped with the most complex software and hardware. Its manufacturer can never be confident that all defects have been eliminated. Nonetheless, aircraft manufacturers usually assume full responsibility for the quality of their products. There is no other industry that relies solely on testing. Humankind has accumulated considerable experience, which shows that testing is an expensive and sometimes ineffective way to provide quality assurance even for software applications. To achieve high product quality, a manufacturer must pay very close attention to the production process. There are techniques that improve the quality of production and allow error-free products to be produced. Manufacturers also take responsibility for how well their products operate and bear all costs that arise from repairing damage caused by their goods.
However, when it comes to software, it is all the other way around. Users get software that contains errors and often pay to have them fixed. All in all, many people regard software development as an industry that puts out unreliable, low-quality products. The typical defensive argument—"But no one does it better than us!"—doesn't hold water.
Then why on earth is it that a malfunctioning airplane or motor car is the fault of the manufacturer, but software developers can't be held accountable for defects in their products? Well, an aircraft operates in an environment that its engineers know and understand well. It is composed of materials whose properties have been studied thoroughly. Unlike aircraft, programs operate in an environment that their developers know nothing about. Computers may run all kinds of programs and have the most diverse hardware and software configurations. And all these factors are changing constantly, say, whenever an operating system update is released. As a result, while aircraft tests have a limited set of conditions that need to be factored into them, software application tests cannot realistically factor in all the various possible hardware and software configurations.
But how is it that no one can be held liable? The mantra of developers currently goes something like this: “It’s impossible for us to eliminate all defects in our applications!” But this is not true. There exist many programs that operate flawlessly.
Anti-viruses are among the most troublesome applications; it is they that draw volleys of criticism to the AS IS principle. This happens because anti-virus products need to be updated constantly, draw the attention of criminals, and are used by people who have inflated expectations of them.
Anti-virus updates are released every half an hour or even more frequently. Is it possible to test all software and hardware configurations during such a short time span? Well, the answer is obvious.
Another problem lies in the behaviour of users themselves. And it’s not about “butter fingers” that configure an anti-virus in such a way that Trojans get free rein over a computer (for example, they add .exe and .dll files onto the exception list).
Users often purchase an opinion about an anti-virus instead of a real product.
They want an application that detects everything, doesn't utilise any system resources and never requires configuration. But when it turns out that their purchase is nothing more than a Fata Morgana (a mirage), they resent the fact that their hopes have been dashed.
A worry-free life, who could ask for more? But it is not by chance or accident that software is provided AS IS. By doing so, companies can optimise development costs and provide reasonable quality assurance.
As a rule, neither software developers nor distributers can be held liable if a user loses a database, and they aren't bound by law to help with its recovery.#security #anti-virus #responsibility
The Anti-virus Times recommends
If users follow our recommendations about anti-virus security (which includes not disabling the anti-virus (you think that’s not common???!) and keeping the application up to date), we in turn do our utmost to recover user data that has been corrupted by malware that was unknown to the anti-virus at the moment of infection.
Our new brochure discusses how to configure Dr.Web in order to minimise the risk of encryption ransomware infections.
Configure Dr.Web to protect your computer from encryption ransomware (PDF)
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