Yesterday morning, a radio program called “Morning Ireland” on RTE radio, hosted a chat with an individual named William Campbell who is apparently a director of a training company called BUA Training. During the course of this debate, Cambell maliciously laid the blame for the recent Novarg/MyDoom virus at the feet of the Open Source community.
While many are simply amused at his blatant self-interest (BUA Training appears to train exclusively on the Microsoft Windows platform from the information I gleaned from their website) others – such as I – are more than a little concerned about the damage such misinformation could do to the reputation of Open Source Software and the Open Source community. Here is a transcript of the interview:-
David Hanley: ‘The fastest spreading email worm in history’ is how internet
security experts describe the so-called ‘MyDoom’ email worm. The MyDoom email
worm was primed to attack S-C-O’s website on Sunday. The experts say it’ll
move on to target Microsoft Corporation tomorrow. S-C-O’s website www.sco.com
remained offline last night. ‘A large scale Denial of Service attack has
started that has made the company’s website www.sco.com completely unavailable,’
the S-C-O said in a statement.
Now, we’re joined in the centre city studio by the director of BUI Training,
computer expert William Campbell.
William Campbell: Good morning.
DH: Good morning William Campbell.
WC: Good morning.
DH: Would you explain to me on behalf of others as ignorant as I am about email
and all to do with it, what is an email worm?
WC: An email worm is, is a computer virus and a computer virus is a program
that runs like Microsoft Word on your computer but it’s one that got on there
when you didn’t want it to get on, em, usually by some sureptitious means, by
somebody em, em, em sending it to you and getting it onto your computer like
DH: How does it manifest itself?
WC: Em, it’s possible you mightn’t notice at all. But, if your friends have
this you’re probably getting lots of strange emails eh, from people who are,
who are, eh, perhaps familiar to you, with an attachment saying ‘Please open
this attachment’. Now, those emails are coming from the virus on somebody
else’s computer and if you open that then you’ll probably be caught.
WC: Em, the reason you’ll be caught is because that will then install a little
program on your computer and if you’re connected to the internet — which you
probably are if you have email — then your computer will be taken over like a
zombie and will act as though you’re trying to get through to this S-C-O
website and make millions of requests for information from it and the
cumulative effect of this, it’s like em, a million people ringing the RTE
switchboard number at the same time. It’ll just knock out the system.
DH: So you’ll be completely disabled.
WC: Em, no. The, the website will be completely disabled. You’ll be…
DH: The website, I mean.
WC: Yes, yes. and, and effectively that’s what happened. So it was, it was
successful in that respect.
DH: Why is this happening?
WC: Oh, oh, oh. This goes back to what’s called the ‘Browser Wars’ whereby
Microsoft put, effectively put Netscape, eh out of business by giving away a
competitor product for free using their, all their money to do that. They did
much the same with Apple, although Apple hasn’t gone out of business and em,
the people who are behind this virus I would suspect are people who, who, em,
are promoting what is called Open Sof… Open, eh, eh, …. Open System
Software whereby eh, you can em, eh, have competitors for the Microsoft
products which, are essentially free.
DH: But would the attackers then eh, almost by definition be competitors?
WC: Em, no because, … these competitors, they don’t really exist as a
company, although there are some companies such as openoffice.org and eh em,
StarOffice and eh Lynux but em, Microsoft has essentially put all the
_commercial_ competition either out of business or they’ve bought them up or
whatever. Eh, em Open Source Software is developed by eh, volunteers and,
anybody can go into a website, have a look at how the program is developing and
throw in a suggestion and say you know, you should include my little …
WC: … my little suggestion.
DH: The experts say they’re going to move on Microsoft tomorrow. Eh, is this
worm an expression of hatred of Microsoft?
WC: Absolutely, that’s exactly what it is. And, and also the reason this S-C-O
company was targetted was because eh, if you go to a website such as
openoffice.org you can …, you can download a free copy of what is a
competitor for Microsoft Office. So an equivalent of Microsoft Word, an
equivalent of Microsoft Excel which probably most of your listeners have on
DH: William, is their any protection against this?
WC: Em, eh, yes. Two things you can do. Number one, em, if you have Windows
and you have Microsoft Office get the updated versions by connecting to the
internet and, and go into the Microsoft website and downloading it, but if you
have … that won’t protect you if you have the virus already and if you do the
thing to do is, first of all do no harm so unplug your computer from the
internet and plug it out of the network if you’re connected to a network and
then use a different computer, maybe go to a, a, a, em, a web cafe to go to
sophos.com who, who, which is an anti-virus company and you can download onto a
floppy disk their, em, a free eh, eh, cleaning utility which will clean up your
DH: Very good. William Campbell, director of BUA Training, computer expert,
thank you for that. It’s ten minutes to eight….
–END OF TRANSCRIPT–
Here is RTE’s audio recording of the relevant part of the Morning Ireland program:-
Morning Ireland interview with William Campbell, BUA Training
And now, for your continued enjoyment, here is the Irish Linux Users Group‘s press release in response to Mr. Campbell’s interview:-
2nd February 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information about Linux in Ireland:
Contact: AJ McKee
Phone: 353(0) 86 380 93 64
353(0) 1 278 96 26
Irish Linux Users Group Refutes Claims made on Morning Ireland about
MyDoom and Linux/OSS community
Dublin, Ireland, 2nd February 2004.
ILUG (Irish Linux User Group), strongly refutes the claims made by
Mr. William Campbell on RTE Radio 1′s Morning Ireland, in relation to
the “MyDoom” virus currently spreading across the internet and that the
virus can be attributed to the Linux/Open Source community.
Although not directly affected by the “MyDoom” virus, ILUG and the
Linux/Open Source community joins in the condemnation of this and all
other computer worms and viruses as being a violation of the computer
user’s right to use their computer and serve only to further inhibit
free, open information & knowledge exchange. We do however feel that
the RTE report lacked objectivity and represented our community in a
A number of statements were made by Mr William Campbell of Bua Training,
which grossly misrepresented the Linux & Open Source Community in
Mr Campbell stated he suspected the open source community of developing
and deploying this software. We find this statement offensive,
irresponsible and made without any reasonable thought or evidence to
suggest any Open Source Software community involvement.
Furthermore, the suggestions that Linux, OpenOffice.org and Star Office
are companies are simply wrong. Linux is a free operating system
by many people and companies world wide in the spirit of cooperation,
with no one individual owning the rights to the software. This is also
true for OpenOffice.org while Star Office is a product of Sun
Microsystems. Linux & Open Source Software is in use successfully by
many Irish Companies, including RTE.
SPAM and Viruses represent serious issues for Linux and the Open Source
Community, and as such the Open Source Community has spent many man
years developing ways to prevent spam and viruses from affecting
computer users. SPAMASSASSIN which helps combat junk email was created
and is maintained by Irish Open Source Developers. SPAMASSASSIN and
other Open Source Software Community products such as Clam Anti Virus
can detect and safely remove the “MyDoom” virus before it can reach
users of vulnerable commercial operating systems
Linux & Open Source Software companies employ many Irish people and
enjoy continued success both nationally and on the global arena and
welcome fair and level competition with larger commercial operating
Open Source Software is written and subsequently licensed under what is
known as an Open Source Licence. This software has been placed under
that licence voluntarily by the author. The author may be a company or
an individual who may or may not receive any payment for the work, but
in fact a lot of work is done by employees within commercial companies
(e.g. IBM, Sun, HP and SCO). This is then provided to members of the
general public free of charge as a viable alternative to other
ILUG respectfully requests that Mr. Campbell publicly clarify his
statements made in relation to the Linux and the Open Source Software
community in Ireland. Additionally, we request that RTE allow us to
refute Mr. Campbell’s statements publicly so as to help undo some of the
damage we feel may have been caused to our organisation.
The Irish Linux Users Group (ILUG) was set up in 1997 to promote
awareness of the Linux operating system within Ireland. The ILUG also
acts as a focal point both for developers wishing to contribute to the
Open Source Software movement and for users of all levels seeking to
solve their individual technical issues. Much of the everyday
interaction revolves around our free mailing lists. Additionally our web
site contains a lot of valuable information for everyone including a
list of hardware and software vendors who deal with Linux, an area for
beginners, a library containing books and software CDs for loan, and a
downloads area where software written by members of the ILUG is freely
available. Membership of the ILUG is free and is open to anyone. For
more information about ILUG and Linux in Ireland, please visit
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