Beware the Trojans

I never saw it coming.

I thought I’d taken all necessary precautions. I had my wits about me. Ok, I was keeping the news at bay, but still I knew that swine flu was high on the agenda. Though I balked at the H1N1 vaccine, I nevertheless did my part by squirting gel on my hands surreptitiously and steering clear of flu-tainted friends. Since I was still concentrating on my own recovery – and gradually gaining more strength – I naively imagined myself to be virtually resistant to viruses writ large. All it took was letting my guard down for just one moment: In a classic case of full-tilt mimicry gone awry, I got suckered in, hit by, wiped away by an insidious computer virus. Not just any virus, mind you, but as A.D. (anti-viral pro extraordinaire) exclaimed: whoa, that’s one mother of a Trojan virus!

Perhaps out of misplaced complacency, or mistakenly imagining myself to be immune to such virulent attacks, I watched with curiosity and shock, as my computer went into a tailspin, flashing censorable webpages, spewing security warning bubble-messages all over the screen. In one irreversible (or so I thought at the time) instant, my files disappeared. I muttered and cursed under my breath. How could this happen to me?!

Over the phone, I enlisted my brother-in-law’s help.  A mistake, in hindsight, as he suspected an innocuous luddite-esque error on my part rather than a hacker’s foul play. The situation thus worsened, the virus embedding itself even more deeply into the hard drive, pulling out all stops, wreaking further havoc at every click.

I disconnected from the network, turned off the power and just sat in a daze. I started to breathe. Deeply. What was I supposed to make of this setback? I’d become so reliant on my computer, so sure of its immutability. And it had let me down.. or had it?

And then, I just decided to let go. I stopped worrying and I stopped wondering what I would possibly do if my files had just been wiped out for all eternity. Because really, it’s not all in my hands. You can take precautions and you can plan, but truth is: poo-poo happens. And sometimes it arrives on your doorstep wrapped in ribbons, gilded on a pedestal – or hidden in an oversized viral-horse.

Eventually, though my Internet bookmarks had evaporated into web-dust, my hard drive was properly re-formatted, files and pictures were salvaged, and ever so slowly, my computer has been inching its way – healing its de-wormed way – back to life. And, much to my surprise, I’m somewhat grateful that this exercise managed to cleanse my computer out of all but the necessities. Still, this whole experience got me thinking…

It’s not just our bodies that need regular tune-ups; it’s unquestionable that our computers benefit from the occasional detox too – preferably one that we schedule ourselves. How about creating purifying rituals for our ailing, aching, weight-bearing hard drives? They too need our unwavering attention. They need to know that we will keep watch, protect them against unwanted intrusions, filter, defrag and systemically weed out viral venom.

Go ahead: shower your laptop with love.

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