Tari Runyan wrote:
confused - as usual - did i do the wrong thing in sending this up
to support -
No, it's not wrong but..., well, it can do more harm than good
(although that harm is mostly to annoy Ken!) ;-)
Computer viruses and other infections are so named because their
behavior so closely mimics that of organic viruses. Distributing virus
warnings is akin to yelling "fire" in a crowd. If the fire
is real the warning can save lives. However, if it's not, it can
accidentally injure or even kill. The difficulty is determining
whether the smoke really means fire. And there's no shortage of people
throwing smoke bombs around for the thrill of it.
So here's my formula:
1) Avoid exposure. We know what that means for organic viruses but
it's easy to be caught off guard for the computer ones. The essential
thing to keep in mind is that for a virus to take hold, it has to be able to
change things in your computer. This means that you have to give it
permission to do so. That's why the virus warnings always say
something like "don't open this" or "don't click on
that". For most viruses that's all you have to do -- don't open
or run anything that you are not sure is safe.
So how do you know when something is safe? Like the food we
eat, it means that you have to both trust the source not to intentionally
harm you and not to accidentally harm you. Know your sources and ask
yourself if you both trust them and trust their ability to check their
sources. It's a network of trust. Usually you can trust the
major companies and then it goes down from there.
2) Inoculate yourself. If you don't feel safe depending on 1), then
you may want a good anti-virus system and you'll need to keep it up to
date. Viruses mutate quickly and old defenses only protect against old
viruses. It's a lot of work maintaining an anti-virus system which is
the biggest reason why we developers don't use them.
3) Take out insurance. The only guarantee in life is... You
never know when your number's up so you prepare for the worst. For
computers this means maintaining your backups. Of course you do that
anyways for other reasons right?
And don't think of backups as just a formal backup of your entire
system. Most of us will never manage that properly. Backups
include keeping multiple copies of our work (not the programs which we can
re-install) in different places. Keep copies of your documents on
floppies. Synchronize copies between your desktop and your
laptop. Do what works for you the same as for exercise, dieting, or
whatever New Years resolution you care to make.
In conclusion, don't panic when someone yells fire. You know
where the exits, lifeboats, parachutes, etc. are and you've prepared for
just this situation. And use Ken's hoax link to help spot the false