How Is a Computer Worm Like a Pack of Cigarettes?

You’ve probably already forgotten about Conficker, the computer worm, since it declined to wreak havoc as feared on April 1. Rest assured, Conficker has not forgotten about you. It’s currently operating on millions of computers around the world, and it’s still spreading and changing. Nobody knows what it will do next. As Bruce Schneier points out, the worm isn’t any less dangerous today than it was on March 31, the peak of Conficker media hand-wringing. But without a certain day of reckoning, we’re happy to put off worrying about the risk it poses. Kind of like how we’re happy to pay $9 for a pack of cigarettes that, in the long term, actually costs $222. [%comments]

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  1. Lystraeus says:

    I was thinking this was the best April Fool joke since the BBC’s spaghetti trees.

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  2. Nick says:

    Does anyone have a new link for the paper by Joni Hersch. I went back to read the article on the cost of smoking a pack of ciggarettes but the link is broken.

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  3. Darin says:

    I don’t think comparing the two is at all valid. I think people assume that their anti-virus or corporate IT department will have it handled. Not worrying about something because you assume its being handled by someone else is a far cry from ignoring long term concerns in place in favor of a short term fix to the individual.. Feels more like buying a pack of cigarrettes for $9 because I think my future chemotherapy will do the trick.

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  4. Alan Young says:

    Yes, they’re both long-term threats and you don’t know when they’ll hit you. Everyone forgot about Conficker by 2 April, but now the infected computers are starting to download other viruses and join spam ‘botnets’. It wasn’t a dud – the joke was that 1 April wasn’t the date for the real damage to happen.

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  5. Diversity says:

    In the present state of knowledge, Conficker is a risk that just might, but probably won’t, give someone access to the little that is in my bank account; or lose me most of the effort stored on my computers. Smoking cigarettes has a pretty well documented 60% chance of killing me.

    Until further notice, I will keep these two risks in serarate mental categories.

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  6. Gaye says:

    Did this analysis take into account the cost of living too long? What is the price of sitting in a nursing home and being irrelevant for 10 extra years? And this is not to mention the cost of dementia and Alzheimer’s and the impact on the next generation.

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  7. Vic-BusinessAccent says:

    Yes, i guess so.
    Describing worm like cigarettes maybe considerable since the two are both dangerous to one’s health (Computer and Human body). But the difference is- a worm may kill computer in an instant, while a cigarette may take time to kill a body.

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