Apples and oranges

This had to tick off a lot of people: I read this week that convicted New Zealand bot herder Owen Thor Walker, 19, did not receive any jail time for his lead role in a major botnet operation that involved at least eight Americans.

Instead, a judge gave him a fine, despite Walker admitting to running a botnet that compromised upward of a million computers. (By comparison, Robert Alan Soloway, who was charged in a similar FBI investigation, received a 47-month prison sentence).

Authorities in New Zealand defended the judge's decision by saying:

"The worst thing that society could have done was put him in jail, where his mind would have been corrupted," Maarten Kleintjes, head of e-crime at the New Zealand Police, said during an interview on New Zealand's 60 Minutes show, according to an IDG News Service story.

While that may have been true, this type of mentality absolutely diminishes what law enforcement across the world is trying to do to stem the pervasiveness of botnets.

If cybercriminals know they'll get off the hook because they are too smart to go to jail, then -- I'll just take a wild stab at this one -- they're going to keep doing it until they get caught.

Now, by all accounts, Walker may be far gifted than most crooks associated with botnets. And, according to the story, he's currently working on the right side of the law, with a software company.

But still, this certainly sends the wrong message and only works to deter what is needed: A cooperative effort among back-end providers, ISPs, enterprises, law enforcement and end-users to eliminate bots and all they're capable of, namely spam, DDoS attacks and information stealing.

If you do the crime, expect to do the time. Even if that means trading in your laptop for prison garb at the door.

** What is up with Apple's flip-flop on its support note that recommended Mac users install anti-virus software?

First, Cupertino says users should deploy AV, then the company removes the note, calling it "old and inaccurate."

My money is on this: Lots of media outlets picked up the story of Apple quietly encouraging users to install AV. That surprised the computing giant. They didn't want potential customers to start thinking that Macs weren't as safe as they have been made out to be.

So Apple, sensing a possible impact on its computer sales, decided the best way out of the problem was to remove the document and pretend like it was never there to begin with.

But with the sales of Macs rising and more malware writers taking notice, Apple will have to do something other than roll over and play dead the next time the conversation of AV comes up.

Something, soon, will have to give. Communication will be key.

*** All of us here at SC Magazine are counting down the minutes - literally, just check out the home page - until our inaugural, two-day SC World Congress kicks off next week at the Javits Convention Center in New York.

So far, the response has been great. Since this is our first event of this kind, there is certainly an air of anxiousness and tension, but considering our strong speaker list, we are confident the show will be a huge success.

It promises to be quite the event, with the goal of providing attendees with as much practical advice as they can carry out of the conference center doors.

If you can't join us, please follow along with the latest news, photos and videos at

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