MISCELLANEOUS

In front of your computer you should always fasten your seatbelt

Three things that cars and computers have in common

Ever since I started dealing with computers I couldn't help noticing that the majority of users actually falls into two large categories, according to their attitude towards computer security: the league of “I don't need an antivirus, what difference does it make anyway?” and the congregation of “I have an antivirus, what else should I care about?”.

Sure, I can see their points, as both societies have enough supportive arguments. However, my daily practice tells me that, actually none of them is completely right. As I enjoy driving a lot, I'll try to use an analogy with a car and its safety system to be more explicit.

You can always drive a car without airbags, seatbelts and other security measures that prevent you from getting hurt in case of an accident. But, as I (unfortunately) know from my own experience, whether you're involved in a frontal collision or a slight bump – God forbid! – it's always better to actually have these protective devices on.

Now try to imagine this scenario: you’re at home, in front of your computer, querying a search engine for breaking news about a recent event. Your TV is running loud, your kids have turned the living room upside-down and your wife is screaming for your help from the kitchen – pretty much the idea of a “quiet evening at home” most of us have. You turn your head because you couldn’t actually understand what she’s saying, your hand slips to the right and your finger accidentally clicks a link displayed on the search results page. Baaang! Your computer just got its frontal impact test by running against a minivan of malware served by poisoned URLs. No security installed onto your system means no seatbelt and no airbags.

Remember that old joke with the guy who had a new car with cruise control, ABS, EBD, ESP – plus other three-or-four-letter-abbreviations of security systems- and crashed it at the first turn right (or was it left?) as he believed his car was supposed to steer by itself with all that stuff on it? Sure thing, you can pack a computer with all state-of-the-art security thinking that you don't need anything else. But the truth is that the human factor is still key, whether we talk about driving or protecting data.

Picture this: you and your laptop are both comfortably nested on the couch and you’re surfing your favorite social networking platform. You've got word from a pal about an app that can spit out the number of people having visited your page and you want to install it too. And, just as, in your car, you hit the gas to get even faster to your favorite holiday resort while simply ignoring all those road signs that warn you about speed limitations, curbs and other dangers, when on your computer, you overlook any clue telling you that the magic app is actually a scam meant to take over your account and hijack your browser. Baaang! You've smashed yourself onto the slope of frauds because you didn't want to be reasonable enough, paid no attention to the road in front of you, and solely relied on your system.

So, what I'm trying to say is that truth is somewhere in between. Overall, there are three little things you should always remember, whether they refer to your car or your computer: Some security is always better than no security at all. No matter how much security you have, you'll never have enough. With your seatbelt fastened, always be alert and watch the road, someone's waiting for you at home (or to get back in front of your computer)!

Safe driving and surfing everybody!

 

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About the author

Răzvan LIVINTZ

With a humanities passion and background (BA and MA in Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest) - complemented by an avid interest for the IT world and its stunning evolution, I joined in the autumn of 2003 the chief editors' team from Niculescu Publishing House, as IT&C Chief Editor, where (among many other things) I coordinated the Romanian version of the well-known SAMS Teach Yourself in 24 Hours series. In 2005 I accepted two new challenges and became Junior Lecturer at the Faculty of Letters (to quote U2 - "A Sort of Homecoming") and Lead Technical Writer at BluePhoenix Solutions.

After leaving from BluePhoenix in 2008, I rediscovered "all that technical jazz" with the E-Threat Analysis and Communication Team at BitDefender, the creator of one of the industry's fastest and most effective lines of internationally certified security software. Here I produce a wide range of IT&C security-related content, from malware, spam and phishing alerts to technical whitepapers and press releases. Every now and then, I enjoy scrutinizing the convolutions of e-criminals' "not-so-beautiful mind" and, in counterpart, the new defensive trends throughout posts on www.hotforsecurity.com.

Balancing the keen and until late in night (please read "early morning") reading (fiction and comparative literature studies mostly) with Internet "addiction", the genuine zeal for my bright and fervid students with the craze for the latest discoveries in science and technology, I also enjoy taking not very usual pictures (I'm not a pro, but if you want to see the world through my lenses, here are some samples http://martzipan.blogspot.com), messing around with DTP programs to put out some nifty book layouts and wacky t-shirts, roaming the world (I can hardly wait to come back in the Big Apple), and last but not least, driving my small Korean car throughout the intricacies of our metropolis's traffic.