Zombie Survival Guide

If Humanity Can Become Extinct, Couldn't Machines, Too?

By Katherine Bonfante

Some people think that humanity's future has its days numbered. There are some who believe that machines will, one day, take over the world. The theory is that machines will outsmart the humans, making us obsolete; or maybe a deadly disease outbreak could end humanity as we know it. Well, at least that's what happens in "The Walking Dead."

If you don't watch that show, here's what you need to know: Because of a worldwide disease that spread in some mysterious way, humans became infected and are now zombies. However, a small group of people have been able to remain disease-free (or so they think), and now fight off zombies while trying to create an environment where they can live the rest of their human days. Is there a zombie cure? We don't know, but the characters of this show sure hope so.

Humans are prone to infections, but so are machines. We already have computer viruses and deadly machine malware. So if humanity can become extinct, couldn't machines, too? Once your machine gets a virus, it pretty much behaves like one of those TV zombies. It attacks any clean file you have stored in your hard drive, infecting everything and anything that is in its cyber path.

If you want to prepare your machine for a zombie attack, head over to ControlDesign.com. Consider us your zombie survival guide.

What you need to do first is amp up your network security. Network security begins with password control and firewall maintenance, but it requires layers of chores and vigilance to prevent unauthorized access. Read the article "Security," written by Executive Editor Jim Montague to learn more.

We also have a network security to-do list that can help you minimize existing threats, keeping you ahead of new ones. See how using complex passwords that include numbers and mixed characters, and disabling AutoPlay to prevent automatic launching of executable files can help you prevent cyber attacks.

You never know who could be attacking your industrial systems. It could be an experienced hacker or an average computer user that just wants to peek in. Read Senior Technical Editor Dan Hebert's article "PC Access Could Invite Hackers," and learn how the typical hacker might have trouble getting into your PLC or PAC, but that same hacker could dig into your Internet-connected PC with ease.

I'm sure that by now you are interested in outsmarting computer viruses, and believe me there is a way. Peter Szor, security architect for Symantec Security Response, wrote a book that provides an insider's view of computer virus research and how threats are analyzed to provide better security measurement. Learn more about this book and the research's findings at www.ControlDesign.com/szor.