[conspire] About conditioned helplessness

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Sep 1 00:53:28 PDT 2011

Quoting Edward Cherlin (echerlin at gmail.com):

> Fortunately, there is a cure, and people once cured apparently cannot
> be infected with the disease again, according to Seligman's research.
> Unfortunately, the cure is difficult. You have to push people to help
> themselves over and over again until the light comes on.

To clarify, I was not speaking _generally_ of condtioned helplessness,
but rather specifically of conditioned helplessness about computer
security against outside attack.

> It is almost impossible to protect a system from authorized users.

A point, but that's a different discussion, really.   If I'd been
talking about protecting the system against _inside_ threats, I'd have
suggested a locked-down appliance.  That's not the problem space I was
discussing with my friend.

> It is known that trying to determine whether a program contains
> malware by inspecting it is an inherently undecidable problem.

Yes, quite.  This is what Marcus Ranum called 'enumerating badness' in
his article about the six worst ideas in computer security.

More information about the conspire mailing list