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[ZDNet] Ed Bott: When I say 'virus,' you know exactly what I mean

post #1 of 72
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Image credit: Mediarocker, Apple logo property of Apple Inc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZDNet - The Ed Bott Report 
Summary: Discussions of malware have their own equivalent to Godwin’s Law: As the conversation grows longer, the probability that someone will derail the discussion by arguing over the meaning of ‘virus’ approaches near-certainty.

Every time I write about the issue of malware on PCs and Macs, it is only a matter of time before someone shows up in the comments to get pedantic over the correct usage of the word virus.

In the Talkback section of a post I published last week, a commenter told me I “blew it” with an illustration I used, which contained Apple’s reference to the Mac having no “PC viruses.” He (it’s always a “he”) went on at excruciating length to explain all the different types of viruses. It was a trip to a world of strange creatures that would have made Tolkien proud. It was erudite, in a 15th Century way. He closed by reminding me that I need to “pay more attention” to facts.

Article: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/when-i-say-virus-you-know-exactly-what-i-mean/5008?tag=nl.e539

Read the Article. No stupid anti-mac/windows hate will be tolerated. The purpose of this thread/article is for the discussion on how focus on semantics is taking away from the discussion of security topics.

My take: I for one, am fed up with the interminable glossology that is being played these days. It takes away from the real point of discussion. Most notably when discussing threats with customers, clients, and among fellow peers. The difficulty stems from how some have this... incessant urge to define variables which need not be defined. The argument contained in this article primarily focuses on how some (not all) mac users insist on defining Malware and Viruses separately, when there is no true need. They are derailing and taking focus off of the real threat which is ultimately security, Instead focusing on the semantics involved between "Malware" and "Viruses". Congratulations, you don't have viruses. Do you want a cookie? The object here is outlined well in a blog comment where someone makes an excellent analogy:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blog commenter: spydragoo 
When you get sick & go to the doctor's office, unless you're a really rabid fan of all medical knowledge, you don't care whether you're sick with a virus, bacterial infection, or some other disease vector. You just want to know a) can it be cured, b) how long until the cure is complete, c) how much will it cost, and d) how do you avoid getting it again? The same principles apply to computer security: we want to know a) can the problem be fixed without losing our data, b) how extensive & complicated is the process (i.e. can it be DIY or will a tech need to do it), c) what can we do to prevent it from happening again, and d) how much will it cost? Anything else for everyone except the actual techs fixing the problem is superfluous information that we don't really need to know, will cause confusion and/or contention, and makes the tech support call go way too long for the QA department's liking.

The question I pose (and reason I risk being targeted as a "Mac hater") is this: Do you think that the focus on semantics is taking away from computing industry? Especially in informing clientele of the importance of proper security behaviors?

Logical commentary and discussion is encouraged and welcomed.

(I would also like to say that I am in no way targeting anyone in particular with this post/article. Seriously. I mean it. I have nothing against anyone in particular. If the shoe fits wear it.)
Edited by MediaRocker - 5/11/12 at 3:16pm
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post #2 of 72
Semantics only matter when you have to interact with an ubergeek computer repair technician. Otherwise, I feel that the general term "malware" pretty much satisfies most, if not all, of the cases that arise because of a virus, a worm, intrusive adware, spyware, etc.

People who chime in about the proper use of the word "virus" really need to get a life--has nothing to do with Mac, PC, Phones, whatever.

When people overwhelmingly know that their CPU is not the tower sitting next to them that their mouse, keyboard, and monitor are plugged into, then I'll start caring about the semantics among identifying malware in general discussions. thumb.gif
    
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post #3 of 72
I do this all the time. I know the different between a Virus, Trojan, Worm, Malware, etc. But I generally just say "virus" to keep things simple. Until there is a general term for "software that can screw up your computer", I will continue to just use "virus", and for 99% of people that will be just fine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by guyladouche View Post

Semantics only matter when you have to interact with an ubergeek computer repair technician. Otherwise, I feel that the general term "malware" pretty much satisfies most, if not all, of the cases that arise because of a virus, a worm, intrusive adware, spyware, etc.
People who chime in about the proper use of the word "virus" really need to get a life--has nothing to do with Mac, PC, Phones, whatever.
When people overwhelmingly know that their CPU is not the tower sitting next to them that their mouse, keyboard, and monitor are plugged into, then I'll start caring about the semantics among identifying malware in general discussions. thumb.gif

Well said.
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post #4 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediaRocker View Post

Do you think that the focus on semantics is taking away from computing industry?

I think some people focus too heavily on the semantic meaning of a word in a pragmatic conversation, however being critical of semantic differences isn't inherently bad. At some level, if a distinction does exist, it may well be practical to argue semantics - however I hardly think that was the scope of the article in question, in which semantic debate becomes secondary to the intention of the initial communication.

"commenters" can be bad about confusing a semantic disagreement with useful input in the scope of the discussion.
    
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post #5 of 72
Gotta admit I find the threads where people argue endlessly about the terminology to be more then a little stupid. To most people anything bad that happens to their computer is a virus. They don't care if it's a worm, a trojan, a virus, or whatever. The people arguing about terminology are perfectly aware of this. Virus is a catchword that covers all malware and is used far more then "malware" is by normal people.

And worst of all it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if a bit of malware is a virus or not, it's still something bad that's happening to someones computer. Arguing semantics is just an attempt to divert attention and dilute the issue.
post #6 of 72
I just simplify it as Malware these days.

Depends which client im on the phone with i guess.

I got one client who very southern and religious, I just tll him his computer is the devil and needs an exorsist
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post #7 of 72
this is why i hate lobbist like i hate mts!their job is to blur the optinion ,blur the line and make it ok that it happens!and after that they wonder why their magic publicity,malware,virus!or whatever you want to call it(since their purpose is pretty much all the same ,spam!)dont work!because sadly user get fed up of corporation using peoples bandwith!i dont mind paying for each gb I use!i do mind having to pay for stuf i dont want!like i use 1 gb spammer use 100 mb of MY BANDWITH!hell no not gona happen!i will even hire a hacker to make sure it doesnt if ms doesnt do what they re supposed to do!prevent this kind of thing happening!

and this is why nothing is black or white anymore,because lobbist are hired the blurr ,gray,shade everything ! its white?no problem give lobbist time and when they re done it will be gray enough it wont mather!

hahaha!yep fun stuff lol!
Edited by drbaltazar - 5/11/12 at 12:05pm
post #8 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by drbaltazar View Post

this is why i hate lobbist like i hate mts!their job is to blur the optinion ,blur the line and make it ok that it happens!and after that they wonder why their magic publicity,malware,virus!or whatever you want to call it(since their purpose is pretty much all the same ,spam!)dont work!because sadly user get fed up of corporation using peoples bandwith!i dont mind paying for each gb I use!i do mind having to pay for stuf i dont want!like i use 1 gb spammer use 100 mb of MY BANDWITH!hell no not gona happen!i will even hire a hacker to make sure it doesnt if ms doesnt do what they re supposed to do!prevent this kind of thing happening!
and this is why nothing is black or white anumore,because lobbist are hired the blurr ,gray,shade overything ,its white?no problem give lobbist time and when their done it will be gray enough it wont mather!
hahaha!yep fun stuff lol!

When someone says "virus," we know exactly what they mean. When you say anything at all we have absolutely no idea what you mean.

I have absolutely no clue what this response has to do with the topic.
    
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post #9 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordikon View Post

Until there is a general term for "software that can screw up your computer", I will continue to just use "virus", and for 99% of people that will be just fine.


How about "malware"?
    
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post #10 of 72
he asked about semantic!i gave exemple,it could be anything related to computing !and lobbist,lawyer,juge etc etc a lot of peoples work is in sementic!if anybody could remove this ,lol a lot of people would be out of work!
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