Keeping your computer clean isn’t just smart: it’s your civic duty. Here’s why.
If your computer is malware-ridden, it’s not just slowing you down. It could infect machines used by your friends and family, putting them at risk. It’s even possible your computer is being used by hackers to wage attacks on others, all without your knowledge.
We often talk about computer security in personal terms. Defend yourself from computer crimes, we say, appealing to your sense of self-interest. But keeping your computer clean isn’t just about your security. In an interconnected world, your security affects everyone else’s – and particularly that of the people you’re close to.
Here are ways an infected computer can affect the people around you, the company you work for and even the world.
You Could Be Infecting Your Friends, Family And Co-Workers
No one wants to be the guy who gets everyone else sick.
You probably know the common sense ways to avoid catching malware – things like not downloading software from sites you don’t trust, and scanning email attachments before you open them. But did you know some malware can spread infections via a USB drive? Or a WiFi network?
This means, if your computer isn’t clean, you could be putting others at risk. Every time you use a flash drive to share a file, you might be spreading malware. Every time you ask a friend for their WiFi password, you might be sharing malware.
Sure, there are steps your friends could take to use a jump drive securely, and there are firewalls your friends could set up to stop your computer from infecting theirs over WiFi. But if you keep your computer clean, they won’t have anything to worry about.
You Could Be Part Of A Botnet
If you don’t keep your computer secure, it could turn into a zombie computer. This means that, without your knowledge, your computer could be hard at work doing a hacker’s bidding.
A network of zombie computers is called a botnet, and they do all sorts of nasty things for people who mean ill. Best case scenario, your computer is making someone else rich by mining BitCoins without your knowledge. Worst case, your computer is being used to send out spam emails, or launch DDoS attacks.
Put simply: the people who make malware aren’t just doing so to have fun. Some of them want to use your computer for their own purposes, meaning your negligence is helping someone else make the Internet a worse place. Keeping your computer clean is the best way to prevent this.
Concerned that your PC might be a zombie? Check our guide to zombie computers to make sure you’re secure.
You Could Be Embarrassing Yourself – And Your Friends
This is a little bit of self interest, sure, but stay with me. Infecting someone else’s computer not only puts them at risk: it’s also potentially embarrassing. If your friends, family or co-workers find out they got infected because of your negligence, it isn’t going to reflect well on you.
This is particularly true if you got that malware while browsing xHamster, but even if the infection isn’t porn-related you’ll still have egg on your face. And that could have serious repercussions.
For example: if a piece of malware infects your email software, and sends a spam message to everyone in your address book, that could make you look stupid in front of everyone you know. If you’re looking for a job right now, this could seriously hurt your chances of getting the position.
Even worse: if your negligence ends up infecting a friend’s computer, you might be responsible for them not getting a job.
This is why it’s important to keep your computer clean: it can save you, and the people you care about, a lot of embarrassment.
Keep Your Computer Clean! It’s The Right Thing To Do
You don’t skip washing your hands; don’t skip keeping your computer clean, either.
Your security choices don’t just affect you. We’re all in this together, and what you do affects other people.
If you find out that you are infected, take the steps required to clean everything up. It’s the right thing to do.
How do you keep your computer clean? Are there other ways a malware-ridden computer can negatively affect the world? Let’s talk about all this and more in the comments below.