Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paranoia: Everything is broken, revert to text

I had to blog this, since I saw a post come across Twitter earlier from a friend of mine commenting on how some PR people are sending around press releases on PDFs to him.


Oh, that's right ... PDFs are now considered tainted or potentially malicious attachments.  So that means that you shouldn't ever open a PDF again?  Or you COULD just run it through one of these online PDF conversion services, such as this one ( ...right?

But my point is a little deeper.  Has the pendulum gone so far to the highly complex technologies side that we're now seeing a backlash against things like PDFs?  Are PDFs now inherently untrusted attachments?  If so ... do we revert back to text-only email?

Where does this end?  What do you consider malicious attachments or technologies ...such that you'll avoid their use altogether?


Kirill Mendelev said...

Any message is just as dangerous as the reader permits it to be. "Dynamite how-to" is as dangerous in plain-text format, as it's in PDF, if the reader is willing to follow the instructions.

Information Amplifier said...

*.SCR ;-)

Seriously though, I think this concern is due to the long-running belief that PDF documents could not be edited by "just anyone". This made them "safer" than the ubiquitous MS Office files that were commonly being used to ship out malware. Now PDF can be generated by anyone with the right freeware package and it is off its pedestal, mixing with the other suspect data types in our mailbomb nightmares.

I wonder if this will become one of the mailing list subscriber options? (TXT only or HTML? PDF or JPG or TXT only? Fun-loving or troll free? Coffee or tea? .....)