“What hath God wrought?” were the contents of the first ever telegraph message. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/may24.html
An ominous message that would seem to reveal that Samuel Morse understood some security implications of technology, except, it was his friend’s young daughter who appears to have suggested the biblical verse. Perhaps “What hath God wrought” would have been a better first ever computer message. Rather than “Operating system not found”, “What hath god wrought” would have been a better message! Microsoft would have been well advised, back in 1997, to display a message “What hath god wrought?” rather than “This document contains macros. Enable or Disable”. We see the technology abused on a scale that would have been unimaginable to Morse. Still, there are incredible benefits.
In the doom and gloom that makes up the daily grind of security blogging and news reporting we usually overlook the great things that technology brings.
My wife’s grandmother has a Presto (http://www.presto.com/) email machine. She can’t send email from it, but an effective whitelisting technology blocks spam and viruses and allows us to send her emails and pictures from all over the world. She loves receiving news of what and how her friends and relatives are doing. All of this without the need for technical expertise or security education.
Social networking sites allow us to meet people from all over the world. When I was 18, the cost of communicating with a person half way around the world was prohibitive. The viable options I had were expensive phone calls, inconvenient, and still costly visits to Western Union, where my remote friend may not have the money to return a message, and affordable, but slow post. Today I can IM with people who have access to computers and email, even though they may live on a very small income. Just today I was chatting with a friend in Turkey on IM and got this wonderful offer:
“if you happen to visit my hometown or Istanbul, I’d try my best to offer accommodation and free tour :)”
What an amazing thing that the internet helps create cross cultural friendships and can help us to learn about different cultures.
Thanks to technology, my friends and I can record songs we have written and share them. We can take pictures of beautiful places and share them. There are tons of wonderful things that technology brings us, but we mostly hear about the problems.
It really isn’t the intent to focus on the negative, but by pointing out the problems we hope to help people to avoid trouble. Just the same, mental health experts teach that it is important to appreciate, to be grateful for the good things we have. So, as you read the blogs and news articles that spell doom and destruction, remember to also think of the wonderful benefits your computer brings you. You’ll be much happier if you can learn to avoid problems, but also take some time to appreciate blessings.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, We Live Security