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Thread: MS ad claiming 'security' pulled by ASA :)

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    MS ad claiming 'security' pulled by ASA :)

    [Johannesburg, 20 March 2003] - The Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) has ordered that a Microsoft ad implying that its software will bring about the extinction of the hacker is to be pulled for being "unsubstantiated and misleading".

    An objection was lodged by freelance journalist Richard Clarke, in his personal capacity, who complained that the advert was untrue. He claimed Microsoft software is littered with vulnerabilities.

    The advert depicts a dodo, a woolly mammoth, a sabre tooth tiger and a hacker. The caption claims that not everyone benefits from Microsoft software and that with it, a customer's data couldn't be safer even if it was kept in a safe. It was published in the November issues of ITWeb Brainstorm and Time Magazine.

    "Microsoft's software is littered with vulnerabilities," Clarke says in his submission.

    Microsoft was asked by the ASA to provide information, substantiated by an independent, credible expert, on the degree of security of its software in accordance with Code of Advertising Practices. Microsoft was also asked to defend the advert against Clarke's claim that the advert was misleading.

    Microsoft submitted documentation to substantiate its claims about the security of the software and said the advert was not designed to mislead the consumer, but was merely a tongue in cheek dramatisation that the software would threaten the survival of hackers.

    After reviewing both parties' submissions, the ASA ruled that Microsoft's claims about the security of its software were unsubstantiated as it had not been evaluated by an independent entity. The ASA ruling said because the claim was unsubstantiated, it was therefore misleading and ordered the advert to be withdrawn.
    The ad under the spotlight. Its caption states: 'Microsoft software is carefully designed to keep your company's valuable information in, and unauthorised people and viruses out. Which means that your data couldn't really be safer, even if you kept it in a safe. Which is great news for the survival of your company. But tragic news for hackers.'

    Considering the wealth of bugs discovered in the past week in MS software, this is hilarious. It would be funny even if it hadn't been pulled by a regulating body.

  2. #2
    AO Security for Non-Geeks tonybradley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    I agree it is a ridiculous claim. Just as Oracle's marketing campaign about being "Unbreakable" was pie in the sky. No matter how secure they make their products they will always be breakable in my opinion. The security is only as good as the person who thought it up and given enough time and resources someone can outsmart it.

    For any company to claim they are 100% secure or impenetrable is laughable and paints them as a prime target. To make such a claim serves only to expedite the time it takes for their security to be cracked and broken because they have thrown down the gauntlet for the hackers of the world.

    Microsoft may not create the most secure sofware, but I also think that the issues are generally just a much larger deal because of how much of the installed base of the world relies on their products. If only 1000 people used Windows nobody would make a big deal about the security flaws. Microsoft is probably not the most or the least secure. Their products are generally secure and they work to improve them. But, because they are Microsoft their products are targeted for vulnerability research more often and its a much bigger deal when a flaw is found because so many people are exposed.

    Vulnerabilities of varying severity and impact are discovered almost everyday and affect pretty much every piece of software developed. However, only things like Microsoft vulnerabilities or flaws with the magnitude of impact like the recent Sendmail vulnerability actually make the press. Other vulnerabilities aren't generally sensationalist enough to be worth printing.

    I think I will write some sort of article on this subject. Check out my site in the next few days.

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