Big Bill, The New G Man

Francis Vale

The FBI wants to reach out and touch somebody. Actually, more than just somebody. Everybody. The FBI is asking Congress for the right to simultaneously monitor upwards of one hundred thousand phone calls. This is only slightly up from the 1,000 or so total wiretaps now down annually. Naturally, all the .44 magnum Michigan folks view this Enlightened Plan for Enhanced Citizen Protection as more needless government meddling.

But there is an easy way out of this PR mess for the Feds: just make sure those millions of potential home alone felons use Win95 and MS applications. The rest is cake. You see, Microsoft has this nasty little problem. We all know that files that you thought you deleted off disc, really aren't. But because the OS of the century, Win95, has a brain dead OLE implementation built into it, what was merely inconvenient can now become very interesting -- to others. The upshot is that when a Dedicated Defender Of Our Personal Freedom deletes his fertilizer bomb making files, and then cheerfully decides to send a happy birthday e mail to his probation officer, the supposedly erased files can go right along with it. The birthday boy just opens his mail with a text editor, and ecco! There is the supposedly long gone file. If a text editor doesn't do the open sesame trick, then try using a file viewer program like that found in Norton Utilities.

Being an OLE bug, this little MS oversight can also occur with deleted Excel spreadsheets containing such goodies as what-if bomb making costs, erased Access database files with the home phone numbers and wedding anniversaries of all the members of the Islamic Jihad, etc. This unique OLE 'feature' is nothing new. Microsoft had this problem once before, when OLE was part of Win3 Microsoft Office. The bug was quietly fixed in the 'c' release of Office sent out last summer. But good bug that it is, it popped up once again in Win95. Except now, OLE is ingrained right into the operating system.

Obviously, Win95 is heaven-sent for the FBI. Instead of battling congress in a nasty fight for noisome new legislation, Microsoft has already done the hard work for them. This could work out rather well for Bill Gates. It might lead to the ultimate bundling/competitive upgrade deal of all time. Gates just has to convince his new found friends in the U.S. Government to put another check-off box on your annual tax return. Along with contributing a buck to another intellectually inspiring presidential campaign, for another measly100 cents, you can upgrade to Win 95 and MS Office. This can be a real win-win. Microsoft stock will soar, Bill G.'s net worth goes up another $10 billion

And once OLE gets fully distributed across the 'Net, the Feds have it made. They simply drop a line into the MS Network, and presto! A real time national feed of all our dirty file laundry. Government tracking of miscreant corporate types is even easier. The Feds merely mandate that Win95 clients are used on Novell networks. It seems that while running Win95 in file and print sharing mode in Netware, and also running remote administration services, user files are readable by anyone on the network, or at least until the sys admin. reboots.

UNIX users can also get a special peek-a-boo FBI treat. The shareware Samba SMB-client that lets UNIX computers share files and printers with a Win95 PC also gives hackers all rights to all files and directories running the SMB Client software.

Fair is fair. Shouldn't the Justice Department be giving Bill G. a pat on the back for all his hard work in making the nation more secure, instead of giving him such a bad time? This might even call for a special presidential medal. So send Bill Clinton an e mail right now, and tell him what you think. The FBI will be glad you did.

The Bottom Line

Home Users: All you wannabe Unabombers out there who want to send an opus to the Washington Post should make sure it gets written with MS Word under Win95. The Feds will be glad you did.

Business Users: An IRS agent can now remotely log-on from his favorite Dunkin Donuts onto your Novell network and get everything he needs to know before he even finishes his Danish. Does MS Word also spell check for tax fraud?

Power Users: Sure, maybe you could eavesdrop on the stray bits, but wouldn't it be more fun to slip in a nasty little file onto someone's system, and let OLE/MS Network do the rest of your dirty work? Do we hear the word promotion, somewhere?

Copyright 1997, Francis Vale, All Rights Reseved

21st, The VXM Network,