Monday, March 19, 2007

Virus, What Virus?

These days everyone seems to be afraid their PC is going to be infected with some sort of evil application. They pay premium prices for pre-built computers because they come with anti-Virus software… and enough crapware to do more harm to your PC’s performance than most viruses.

Same with spyware and malware, they don’t just magically appear on your computer unless you’re into clicking on spam emails or visiting websites with ‘free software Microsoft download xxx’ plastered all over it.

Not to sound like an imbecile but I switched off all third party virus scanners and firewalls about three years ago when I migrated to Windows XP. My computer has not yet been infected by any form of virus at all and its security has never been compromised. Period.

This is in sharp contrast with what certain companies like to make people believe, all the worse their position in the market makes it look like they have a smart thing to say about PC Virus protection. Taking what those companies say as fact is like asking Steve Ballmer if the iPod is any good, he is part of a company that is in direct competition with Apple, he isn't going to say anything nice about the iPod.

Believe it or not these antivirus developers profit from selling their software and it actually helps them when they expose such and such vulnerability in the operating system to show off how 'vulnerable' it is. However in this case Microsoft has done a particularly good job of bolting down their latest OS that these third party antivirus developers aren't exposing vulrablities (maybe because they can't?) so much so they are treading into the real of hypothetical situations where users may get annoyed with such and such software feature and disable it hence making Vista's entire security useless.

So far all of Vista's weaknesses in its security are based on the hypothetical rather than factual. Of course people are easy to panic and facts always takes a back stage to the outlandish scary fantasy that people oh so love to believe.

I'm left wondering here, the whole security issue is no doubt trumped up rhetoric, a marketing ploy if you will. Does it help or hurt Microsoft? Do people rush out to get Vista because it's 'more secure'? Or do people not go out and buy Windows Vista but stick to Windows XP and go out and buy Kaspersky's latest virus scanner? Do people even care anymore?

Computer security is more and more becoming an issue marketing hype and an interesting case study into human phobia rather than a matter of computer science.

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