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Thin clients and private schools

In response to the Perspectives column written by Philip Brittan, "Inherent insecurity":

While it's clear that Phillip Brittan's focus is on the enterprise, I take issue with his proposal to "redefine the rules of the game." It can't work.

First, users will simply not accept a return to "dumb terminals" on their desks. Only to beleaguered corporate information technology departments--which have seen their power over information evaporating steadily with the proliferation of desktop computing--would this giant backward step be appealing.

The proposed thin-client solution puts an even greater onus on IT departments to provide security, a task that's proven many of them seriously inept. It also presents an enormous opportunity for bevies of outside "experts" to reap huge rewards to help fix the inevitable new security problems, since IT departments will be desperate for solutions. Because the outside experts then rely on continuing security crises for their livelihood, it is not in their interest to develop definitive solutions. So, we have fewer, bigger target systems, and successful attacks wreak even more havoc.

Another major flaw in this approach is that it leaves millions of individual computer users, very small businesses and other organizations that lack resources to hire these "experts" completely blindly. Brittan's proposal is equivalent to: "The public education system is broken. It's too hard to fix. So, I'll move my kids to private school and let somebody else deal with it."

Any practical solution must consider that information security is a problem for everyone. The answers are neither simple nor obvious, but they can be developed. A regression to an outdated system model may have a nostalgic appeal, but is neither realistic nor effective.

Bert Paredes
Littleton, Colo.