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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How Security Companies Sucker Us With Lemons

Recently, Bruce Schneier, wrote an article of this title in which he attempts to explain why so many bad security devices are available on the market.

He attempted to rationalise the situation by using a theory proposed by George Akerlof in his paper "The Market for Lemons".

While Bruce directs his attention to security devices like secure USB drive and firewalls, much of his arguments apply equally well to most software package on the market.

According to George's theory, the producer of the goods (in this case software) knows their product a lot better than the buyers and hence the buyers are always placed in a disadvantage position. Most buyers of the software are suckers for buzz words used by software producers.

I know intimately of one case in which the producer of a piece of software proclaiming their software uses relational database. But of course, the vendor never tells the buyers how well their exploit this technology. If the buyer knows about this, they would definitely be fuming.

Another case when multi-tier architecture is more fashionable then the old client-server one, so it changes its tune to proclaim that it is using multi-tier design but in reality it is still a two tier client-server architecture.

George went on to suggest to break this vicious circle by providing signal from source such as knowledgeable mechanics that can check on the used cars for the buyers. Or for someone to provide honest assessment of the goods for the buyers.

I have long been an advocate for Software Advocacy on behalf of software consumer. At the moment, the playing field is so severely tilted in favour of the software producer. No wonder we have so many badly written software peddling on the market.

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