Editorial: Important publications are damaging their credibility when they attack Microsoft over WannaCrypt

In these days of fanciful accusations of collusion, conspiracy and even treason, the only reason we give these ideas any credence is due to the credibility of the esteem journalistic institutions who proclaim them, who have a reputation for accuracy, thoroughness and fairness.

It is therefore surprising to see headlines from the likes of the Guardian and the New York Times accusing Microsoft of negligence and profiteering when it comes to the recent WannaCrypt ransomware attack.

The Guardian accuses Microsoft of passing the buck, saying Microsoft’s “product deficiencies lay at the heart of the problem” and that Microsoft’s solution was conveniently to buy a new version of Windows.

The New York Times feels “Microsoft should discard the idea that they can abandon people using older software“, noting “the money they made from these customers hasn’t expired; neither has their responsibility to fix defects.”

They insist Microsoft should be updating the operating systems of users without changing anything except the underlying software, saying users should not have to choose between security and privacy and that “security updates should only update security, and everything else should be optional and unbundled.

Their published opinion is very much out of keeping with that of technically informed people, even those who are Microsoft critics, and worryingly suggests the highly respected newspapers did not speak to or believe experts before they published their screeds.

Of course, their mistake is easy to spot by our readers, who are technically informed, but the majority of the general public will accept the views as being reasonable and appropriate. It raises the question of whether these companies can be trusted with news and opinions from areas outside our areas of expertise, such as national politics, foreign policy, immigration, energy and the law, where we would not be able to see their flaws as easily.

Given the importance of good journalism in this day and age that is concerning indeed.

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