Opinion:This weekend we were treated to two yarns from security experts whose main role appears to be making a living from people's fears. Both reveal a considerable amount about the mindset of the anti-virus market.
Firstly there was a call from the Russian Eugene Kaspersky who told us that the biggest problem with the World Wide InterWeb is that people could remain anonymous. He blames the fact that the internet was designed not for public use, but for American scientists and the US military as the source of the problem.
When it was introduced to the public and it was wrong to use the same anonymous structure because the great unwashed are clearly not to be trusted. Kaspersky says everyone should have a unique identification, regulated with internet passports, internet police and, presumably, internet German Shepherds with a bad attitude.
Kaspersky said that in this new world there needs to be an internet police force. Countries should be forced to sign international agreements about following internet standards. And if some countries don't agree with or don't pay attention to the agreement, they should be cut off the web. Perhaps if they don't give you enough living space you can lob the odd nuke at them until they comply.
He adds that governments understand the problems and are very keen to tackle them. The problem is that they think in terms of national borders and the internet does not have any.
While since Ivan the Terrible Russians have regarded police states as a jolly good thing, that does not explain Symantec's latest press release about people being scared into downloading bogus AV products from the Interweb.
Symantec says more than 40 million people have fallen victim to the "scareware" scam in the past 12 months and ended up downloading something they regretted. Usually it didn't work or nicked their credit card details.
Now call us cynical, but, since the dawn of time, AV vendors, including Symantec, have been terrifying the asses off people in a bid to get them to download their products and get their credit card details.
While there is no doubt that people need an AV product if they want to do anything these days, owning one - regardless of who you bought it off - is no guarantee you will be safe. Viruses change overnight and often AV outfits are caught on the hop.
So people can end up scared into paying for and downloading legitimate software from respected security experts which does not work. How are the great unwashed expected to spot the difference between that and paying for and downloading illegitimate software from a bunch of dodgy geezers in Uzbekistan that does not work?
It seems then that Kaspersky is right and the only way you will be really safe is that if you allow the government to have total control over your internet life.
Or maybe you just grab a free AV checker from AVG or Microsoft and tell them all to go to hell.