It might sound strange, but mosquitoes have more in common with computer infections than simply being annoying. A recent battle on the hiking trails of Western New York reminded me of the battle our computers fight with infections.
After a vigorous day of hiking, my friend Rob and I found a nice, level spot beneath the trees to crash for the night. There was still work to do, but we decided to take a rest. That’s when our unwelcome guests arrived: a swarm of buzzing, blood-sucking mosquitoes! But we weren’t going anywhere. No, it was time for action!
The idea of bug spray came up before the trip but we concluded that when carrying a backpack around, lighter is better. On top of that, people have survived in the wilderness without repellent since the beginning of time. As an opportunist, being out in the wild works for me. Many fixes come through observation or good ol’ fashioned trial and error.
Of course staying one step ahead of the game helps, which I learned after trying to ignore the mosquitoes. My body was like a warm blood factory to the little pests; any area exposed was just another opportunity for them! Rather than slap myself silly, I covered up with pants, sleeves and a hat. What a difference that made! With the battle concentrated to one area, it greatly lowered my risk of getting bit.
We weren’t completely safe though. The mosquitoes were still buzzing around our heads, landing on our faces, being annoying. Moving closer to the fire helped even more, but the only way to totally guard from mosquitoes would be to completely isolate ourselves from them. We could have jumped into our tents, but personally the mosquitoes have won the battle at that point. If we were going to exist in the wild, we’d just have to accept the duty of swatting a few pests now and then.
So how does any of this relate to our computers getting infected? It’s simple! In that story, I play the role of your PC and the mosquitoes are infections. With the amount of traffic on the Internet, cyber infections are numerous and wreaking havoc all over the globe. It’s called “malware” (aka malicious software) and there are swarms of these things! They come from e-mails, file-sharing, downloading – even viewing a website can catch your PC something nasty! And no, ignoring infections or the fact that they exist doesn’t work.
Protecting your computer from them does. Putting on pants, sleeves and a hat out in the wild is the equivalent of installing protection from infection on your PC. Through years of experience repairing and disinfecting computers, I’ve found the three most popular malware infections to be viruses, spyware and adware. By installing protection from them, you dramatically lower the risk of your PC getting hit, which is such an important tip! It’ll only cost a bit of your time because there are free programs which do a great job at preventing each of those infections.
New viruses are created every day. The anti-virus companies can’t find a cure until a virus exists and has already done damage. If we’re going to use the Internet, we’ll just have to accept the duty of swatting a cyber mosquito or two. To be completely safe, we’d have to isolate our PCs from the Internet. Since that’s not feasible, I encourage malware protection and running those scans at least once or twice a month. Good luck giving your PC a long, healthy life!