Computer Uniqueness

My personal theorem is that, outside of computers owned by large corporations that have a standard hardware and software configuration, and a very strict Corporate Security Policy, there are not any 2 computers in the world that are identical. Consider just a basic list of factors:

  • Hardware configuration.
  • Software configuration.
  • Ownership policy (CSP, if one exists).
  • Individual usage.
  • Network usage / Internet connectivity.

Each of the above factors will cause some varying complement of files – configuration, data, software – to be placed on a given computer, or group of computers. This variance in files, and in computer use, affects what malware may or may not be found on an individual computer, or on any network.

That being the case, any set of computer problems (or symptoms) should also be regarded as unique. This is why I recommend diagnosing any computer problem as unique.

Take, for example, the “access denied” symptom. Look at how many possible causes there are for that simple message. Now consider how many different ways that message might be interpreted, by different people.

So, please do me the honour of not assuming any “one size fits all” application of a symptom to a diagnosis. One of my pet peeves is someone who accepts advice in a forum, is given a very simple solution (following considerable diagnosis work, to find the specific cause) to what appears to be a common problem, and then tries to apply that simple solution to other folks later asking for advice in that forum.

If you go to the doctor with a cough, he prescribes a certain medication to you, and you are cured, would you stand outside the pharmacy and recommend that medication to everybody approaching the door? I hope not. Please don’t be that guy.

Also, I hope that you wouldn’t go to the doctor and say “My neighbor had this cough, and you gave him x medicine. I have the same cough, and need the same medicine.”. Nor should you go into a forum, and post your problem report at the end of somebody else’s problem report. Solve one problem in one thread, please.

Approach every problem with basic and methodical diagnosis. Whether the complaint is about lack of Internet service, inability to share files, or unknown programs running on your computer, please diagnose each problem methodically, and from the bottom up. And protect your computers, using a layered security strategy.

Analyse every computer network, and its security needs, individually. To debate any one characteristic of an operating system, such as Linux vs Windows, as being inherently more secure or stable, while ignoring the infrastructure where it is used, is so much Hoya. The security of the operating system, on any computer, can only be assessed, and improved, based upon the total environment in which it operates.

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