eSchool News spoke with several school technology directors about Pescatore’s controversial remarks (see story at http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showstory.cfm?articleID=3112), and here’s what they had to say:

“One thing I’ve wondered over the years is why Microsoft and others have been able to foist such vulnerable products on all of us while going virtually unchallenged. People accept viruses as a fact of life and never stop to ask, ‘Does it have to be this way?’ … We don’t use [Microsoft] for our primary mission-critical applications, in large part because of their poor track record relative to security.”

—Mike Rackley, director of information technology services, Mississippi State University

“Hackers go for the most popular targets. Would we stop buying Ford Ranger trucks because they’re the most likely vehicle to be stolen? I think not.

“The important thing for school users is to realize that they can’t expect to defend against internet attacks with sloppy defenses. They must use the strongest eMail program, buy the best antivirus software, keep the software updated, and keep informed on the current issues. Education is the key here and that is our No. 1 business, so we should do it better than anyone.”

—Russell Smith, education technology consultant, Region 14 Education Service Center, Abilene, Texas

“Getting rid of ISS entirely sounds a little reactionary to me. The very features that make the ISS server susceptible are the features that make it useful. A valid replacement would have to be found and proven to be effective [before you get rid of ISS].

“My best advice to [other school technologists] is to diligently watch for security patches that are available, buy high-quality virus protection, and keep that up to date on both the servers and the client machines. Most importantly, have a tool in place that allows you to continually monitor your network activity so that you know the moment something unusual takes place.”

—Dan Muck, director of technology, Mitchell (S.D.) School District

“The main problem that I see with the ‘dump Microsoft’ logic is that all servers, Apache included, have security holes that must be plugged from time to time. The non-Microsoft servers, with the exception of Apple, are more difficult to configure in the first place.”

—Marvin Adams, technician, Columbia (Miss.) School District

“The Microsoft product is a tremendous product for the price range and variety of options of software available. It is also much easier to hire a MIS person who is familiar with Microsoft products. However, I think the most important quote in that whole article was, ‘But Pescatore said any company hit by more than one attack clearly doesn’t have the technical staff to stay on top of the latest safeguards.’

“Until schools are willing to hire MIS people over promoting from the ranks, they are going to continue to be plagued with technical problems and billions of dollars of wasted technology expenditures and lost productivity.”

—Chris Winders, computer training, RedMagnet Technologies, Tupelo, Miss.