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Everyone tells you, but no one explains why.

Written by Gordon Fecyk, 3/16/2005

MY HERO ROB ROSENBERGER stated the obvious, as he is so famous for:

All mainstream computer security websites focus on teaching the mechanics of safety instead of the need for safety.

I'm guilty of this, too. I went to extreme lengths to describe how to use the safety features built into Windows, while at the most glossing over why I do this. Only when I'm pressured for an explanation do I ever explain why, and that's not fair to anyone I've ranted at.

SO LET ME EXPLAIN the need for safe computing.

Viruses, spy ware and worms - oh my! Overhyped, overblown, and overexploited in the name of profit. Why feed the computer security industry's cash cow? You could save about a hundred bucks a year right now, by giving up your addiction to anti-virus updates and stopping viruses with the tools built into your computer right now. A medium-sized office could save a few hundred bucks a month by giving up their addiction.

Users! Yes, that means you. We all make mistakes and we all have accidentally deleted or overwritten something important, or something. Better yet, we all have children (nieces and nephews too, not just sons, daughters and grandkids) that want to bash away on the computer. You might not be able to stop yourself or your young guests from erasing your files, but the computer can protect itself, just fine. Create a special computer account for your guests, and your computer can protect your files.

Users will gladly spend $75 to $100 on an after-the-fact repair bill. Repeatedly.

Safe computing is about preventing repair bills before the fact.

Repair bills! Ever notice how people won't spend thirty bucks on an oil change for their car, only to spend seventy-five bucks later on when their car stops running? I hate that! I see this every day among home users, too: They'll gladly spend seventy-five to a hundred dollars on an after-the-fact repair bill, only to take their computer back two months later for the same problem! Why not spend a little money now to prevent this before the fact?

Industry Regulations! Canadian businesses must conform to the PIPEDA act, which means taking every reasonable measure to protect their customers' personal information. American health care firms must obey HIPAA. I've consulted with clients about PIPEDA technical matters (not legal matters - we have lawyers for that!) and it turns out safe computing goes a long way toward ensuring PIPEDA compliance. It was also the least expensive way of ensuring PIPEDA compliance.

THESE ARE SOME REASONS we should practice safe computing. Of course there are others, but these demonstrate cost, time, and industry compliance, which are the best understood reasons.

You now have ammunition you can use against the sales person at Best Buy, or at Future Shop, or your favorite contractor, or wherever you get your computer accessories. Tell them why you want an accessory with the Designed for Windows XP logo, or at least an accessory that works with safe computing. And don't forget to tell us all about the garbage they tried to push on you - we're always looking for good material to laugh at!

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