Fighting the little things

Military.com has a piece that should be read not only by military-interested persons, but computer security professionals as well. Turns out that 28% of the troops we deployed to Liberia (and remember, we only deployed a few hundred) came down with Malaria. The same guys who shoot up machine guns were stricken by a few mosquitos. Here are the statistics from military.com Out of 290 people who went ashore in Liberia, even briefly, from ships waiting off the Atlantic coast, 80 contracted malaria — an “”attack rate”” of 28 percent. Of the 157 troops who spent at least one night ashore, 69 became infected — an attack rate of 44 percent. In all, 44 were ill enough with falciparum malaria — the most serious of the three types of the disease — to be evacuated to Europe or the United States. No one died, although several developed cerebral malaria — an infection of the brain — that required them to be on mechanical ventilators in intensive-care units.
But the interesting reason is “”why did they come down with malaria?”” They didn’t follow the proper preventive measures. Thousands of Marines sitting on a ship preparing for battle didn’t have time to take their medicine (that once weekly thing that actually gives you some pretty funky dreams). They didn’t treat their uniforms with the military equivilant of Deep Woods Off. This bodes ill for computer security professionals who expect end users to patch up their own holes and fix their systems by themselves. There are so many people who still look for the “”any”” key on the keyboard and complain that the “”cup holder”” / CD drive is broken that we really can’t see “”patches”” as the way to maintain the systems in the future. Microsoft has issued so many patches this year they’ve even given up and gone to a monthly system (just because users are so busy they can’t keep up). I don’t know what the answer is. I used to say I used a mac because I was “”creative”” but now I’m saying more and more that I use a Mac because it is “”secure.”” Of course, no system is perfect, but the mosquitos of Africa should prove a lesson to anyone wanting to buy Microsoft for their office.]]>

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