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Monday, May 4, 2015

WHY ARE COMPUTER VIRUSES STILL A PROBLEM?

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

- Why have we been battling security problems for over forty years?

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I recently experienced a "malware" problem on my computer. For those unfamiliar with the term, malware represents a software virus planted on your computer to monitor and track what programs you execute and web sites you visit which is valuable intelligence from an advertising perspective (not to mention a good way to hack into your machine). The only problem is, tracking your every move is illegal to do. Discovery of this problem surprised me as I run what is considered one of the most popular antivirus programs around, yet it allowed this malware virus to infiltrate and blossom on my machine. Consequently, I had to purchase an anti-malware software product which astonishingly identified and eliminated over 500 such malware bugs on my computer. Now I am wondering why I need to maintain my main antivirus product if they cannot identify these annoying bugs.

I have been working with computers for a long time; everything from mainframes, to minis, and personal computers, not so much as a programmer but more as a systems analyst and user. Nevertheless, computer viruses were essentially nonexistent on mainframes and minis, but it wasn't until the PC came along that we started to experience hackers planting viruses on our computers. Think about it, we're now at least 40 years into the PC era which many consider a long time. Yet, there is yet to be any real progress in terms of conquering the virus problem. Maybe it is not intended to be.

Back when we were using IBM's OS/2 operating system, a significant departure from the Windows platform, we experienced little, if any, viruses. I believe this had a lot to do with the design of the operating system itself. I am also told Apple and UNIX users experience few problems. Yet, when I entered the Windows world, I discovered a plethora of viruses, bugs, and vendors offering security solutions. This simply may be due to the popularity of the Windows operating system, or is it an ironic coincidence that vendors offer a multitude of solutions, none of which are obviously bulletproof.

The antivirus industry is a multimillion dollar business. It is so big, one could easily speculate there is an incestuous relationship between the antivirus vendors and the operating system vendor, such as a kick back. If true, there is absolutely no intention of ever conquering the problem, just let it continue and collect the cash flow.

Again, what makes me suspicious is that after forty years we have nothing to show for correcting this problem. I think we'll find the cures for cancer and diabetes well before the cure for computer viruses. Frankly, I think the antivirus industry is nothing but a huge scam.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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