05 February 2009

philosecurity—Interview with an Adware Author

Interview with an Adware Author is a fascinating read.

First off, he used the Scheme programming language. His Scheme code has run on possibly as many as 10 million personal computers. Looks like Scheme can be practical as well as academic.

Then there are insights into the shady business and the perspective that results.

S: How private is people’s information today?

M: Not at all.

S: Do you think that in our society we delude ourselves into thinking we have more privacy than we really do?

M: Oh, absolutely. If you think about it, when I use a credit card, the security model is the same as that of handing you my wallet and saying, “Take out whatever money you think you want, and then give it back.”

S: …and yet it seems to be working.

M: Most things don’t have to be perfect. In particular, things involving human interactions don’t have to be perfect, because groups of humans have all these self-regulations built in.

This, however, really struck me:

It really showed me the power of gradualism. It’s hard to get people to do something bad all in one big jump, but if you can cut it up into small enough pieces, you can get people to do almost anything.

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