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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Re: New Web Site for Mathematica Users using WikiMedia

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg53993] Re: New Web Site for Mathematica Users using WikiMedia
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnewsciv at earthlink.net>
  • Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 00:45:07 -0500 (EST)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

On 2/5/05 at 3:15 AM, murray at math.umass.edu (Murray Eisenberg)
wrote:

>A Mathematica notebook is just a text file, after all.  So a good
>precaution would be to open such a downloaded notebook in a text
>editor, e.g., Notepad on Windows, before ever attempting to open
>the notebook in Mathematica.

I don't see this as very useful to address the possibility of a malicious notebook. While notebooks can be easily opened with anything that opens a text file, that will show all of the typesetting directives as well as the Mathematica code. The result is something quite difficult to read and understand. If the notebook were reasonably complex, even an experienced user would be likely to miss malicious code when viewing a notebook in a text editor.

OTOH, I do not see the threat of malicious notebooks as significant.

Persons who write malicious code to do damage are going to want to see as much damage as possible done. The rather small number of Mathematica users as compared to computer users in general would not make targeting Mathematica users attractive to such a person.

I also strongly believe the set of persons motivated to write malicious code and motivated to learn and use Mathematica is a null set.

Finally, I don't see any way to have malicious code in a notebook execute by simply opening the notebook with Mathematica. And it is much easier to understand the function of a notebook opened in Mathematica than when that notebook is opened in a text editor.
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