Epidemic! part 2

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More thoughts while reading Epidemic!:

  • The public health field uses the term “non-vector-borne diseases” to refer to those that spread directly from infected host to infected host, such as HIV/AIDS, and “vector-borne diseases” to those that are carried by mosquitoes or other “vectors.” [p. 60] In contrast, the malware world always refers to the mechanism of infection (e.g., e-mail, IM, web, network) as the vector.
  • Virulent pathogens (those that kill their hosts) have to use techniques to enhance their survival, since their hosts won’t be around to continue harboring them. These include multiplying faster within the host, spreading faster to other hosts, and infecting as many hosts as possible. [p. 61] The same would have to be true for a computer-based infection to survive if it was cannibalizing its own host machines.
  • How common are “infectious” malware diseases? How exactly do we define “infectious?”
  • Patient history is the most important diagnostic criterion. How do we collect accurate PC or user history? [p. 69]
  • PCs to a large extent are not self healing and do not produce antibodies like the human body. This is a significant difference in thinking about how we treat malware.
  • In fighting infectious disease, prevention and making preventative care affordable are key. [p. 73] In fighting malware, the issue is less about affordability and more about education and making the right tools available to users in an easy-to-use way.
  • Mary Wilson is a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health who focuses on global patterns of infectious disease. [p. 74] It might be interesting to see if she has any perspective on the parallels and contrasts between infectious disease and malware.

This entry is part of a series. See the introduction for more information.

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