Sunday, 16 June 2013

When your computer is sick, what do you do?

Humans tend to extend their allowances, especially in terms of things that could inspire pity of others, to the things that they most connect with, so that they decided that their machines could also get sick.

When their machines are sick, they may, for instance, just like their owners, have a virus inside of their system.

As we know, viruses come in the least expected way as possible, like we are calmly walking on the street, a very fine street, when a  stranger accidentally bumps into us and sneezes. A drop of his sneeze reaches our mouth, for instance, and, there we go: Sick we are and we still have the same disease that they had when they bumped into us accidentally.

Computer infections work in a very similar manner. 

Any USB stick may carry viruses, so that the sticks are very much like a potential HIV bearer with no condom if we do not have a good anti-virus program installed in the computer we use by the time we plug them in.

Other obvious vehicles are, trivially, external hard disks, CDs, and mobiles with blue tooth communication capability. 

The most dangerous viruses, the ones that most matter nowadays, the most elaborated, seem to be reaching us via electronic post,  Internet downloads to our machines, and websites.

A simple electronic letter from an acquaintance that we love may bring us a virus that is as nasty as to make our access to our own files impossible.

Everyone warns us about attachments, however, so that this is what we expect when we receive electronic letters with attachments, right?


We usually get used to receiving electronic letters from our acquaintances and the expectation of the nice sensation, or the need, of going through their lines will usually overcome any possible fear of acquiring infections that way.

Unfortunately, most of the time, our acquaintances do not protect themselves adequately against computer infections either, things being all very similar to the HIV phenomenon in its first few years in those regards.

The latest gods of transmission, that is, the latest vehicles for infection, are probably the interactive Excel and Adobe attachments.

For those who do not know, Excel sheets and Adobe files (the so famous .pdf (s)) are perfect vehicles to spread infections that are really nasty.

The more those files allow for interaction (some .pdfs let you edit pieces through balloons, for instance), the more dangerous they are in those regards.

A really nasty virus will mess up with our OS basic files (operational system, that is, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or others), those that tell the computer what to do when it starts activities, or will allow for other people to perform actions inside of our computers without our awareness in real time.

We may do several things trying to prevent criminal activity in our computers, but almost all of them will not stop the really nasty attacks.

One of the most common things that common people try is using the Windows Firewall and the Windows Anti-Virus Program (Defender).

Those obviously come for free with our system. 

Unfortunately, however, in this particular case, the logic involved in those pieces of software will not be enough to protect our computers from anything.

The second most common thing that common people could be trying to do is to turn off their Wi-Fi capabilities, what should work, but normally is useless action.

Actually, even if you try to go to the lowest levels of communication with the machine from your computer, say go and use Control Panel in your Windows 7 machine, then go to boards and turn off network capabilities, you will not be safe.

There are very good trials to make software equate physical action, but none of them seem to be really effective.

If you went physically and took out the Wi-Fi component from your computer, then you would definitely have stopped the possibility of someone entering your computer through the Wi-Fi system and sharing your Internet, for instance.

In those regards, computers that come with a physical button for you to turn Wi-Fi on and off would be more likely to get the job done than those that use only logic. 

One thing that is easy to understand is that if with code you turn off, then with code you may turn on, so that an electronic letter from that best friend of yours, who perhaps you believe knows a lot about IT, may carry the harmful code. Because you trust him, or her, you will read their letter, you will download their attachment, you will look at their file, and perhaps even interact with it, or you will visit their link, and etc.

You may also be curious about a free piece of software that everyone seems to be loving, as for Internet reports, or be after solving a problem quickly, say converting  a .doc file into a .pdf. You then google free online conversion and .doc into .pdf, and you find this program online, which you use, and through which you get the harmful code.

It may sound ridiculous, but the first solution that an IT person will suggest to you, if you complain about infections, is reinstall everything in your computer and, if possible, format it.

If you have original software, coming straight from the manufacturer, therefore licensed, then you can easily do it.

We usually do not want to do it because we do not have backup of our work or because the own backup has a chance of having an infection and would therefore make of that reinstallation solution a joke.

That is obviously, however, a solution that will always work, like for any computer infection.

One of the main problems with adopting it these days is, however, that there are no local laws obliging the manufacturers and the sellers of computers to give us the original CDs with the OSs in several countries, and Australia, a first world nation, is one of those.

Trivially, if we buy a license, paying for it when we buy our computer, we should be entitled to a CD copy, made by the manufacturer of the OS, of our OS.

Trivially, we should receive a CD made by the manufacturer each time we buy a license, since that is the only way to guarantee integrity.

You see, if you have an OS copy inside of your computer and you get an infection inside of it, how can you guarantee the integrity of that OS even if you can start/boot your machine and access it?

The really nasty viruses, however, will not let you not even boot the computer.

Third world nations have created rules of trade that state that the licenses should come accompanied with manufacturer’s CDs. 

That is easy to do and logical.

If you download the OS from the Internet, as MS in Australia has been telling its clients to do, there is always the risk that someone interferes with your process and inserts a virus on the way, for instance, since there are lots of people and things between MS and you, even if we can guarantee that the software piece that we are getting is made by them and is 100% what they have intended.

A few signs of criminal activity are easy to notice. For instance, if your download is happening at a certain speed and all of a sudden it starts going slowly, then there is a high chance that you are the victim of criminal activity. 

Several Internet providers will justify that saying that more people are hooked at that time or whatever, but the truth is that the speed does not usually change in a good connection, especially by too much, since good providers would have thought about all that in advance and would have made provisions for the situation of increase of the load of access at that time and date.

All in all, we seem not to be doing well at all in terms of rights in general in human kind, and this is also happening in the IT sector.

Basically, we do need to rule the industry more in our favor, in favor of the consumers. 

Producing CDs and giving one to each buyer of a computer with MS Windows 7 may cost Microsoft, but, with the money that they make in the market every month, even every second, we are sure that they will have no problems with that.

In capitalism with democracy, we should not be here to support profit for profit, but to care about people first, and first about the majority of the people, and about the majority of only the good people, if possible, since all our systems and rules, in principle chosen by the vast majority, decided to favour those: the good citizens, the good employees, and etc.

It is not fair if we do not get our CDs, sealed at the manufacturer’s end, containing the pieces of software for which we have purchased licenses. 

One of the best reasons for that is absolute necessity: To keep our computers healthy.


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