Just like the Microwave, the blender and the coffee machine, your toaster is a simple appliance; designed to perform a single specific task. Your computer is not.
By computer, I’m referring to any independent computing device – this may be a PC running any variety of Windows, A Mac with any and all manner of OS X, a SmartPhone or any kind of Netbook, tablet or anything in between.
The difference between the toaster (and its brethren) and the computer is that the designer of the toaster had a fair idea what the device would be used for. Sure you have the odd “knife moment” when something is stuck, but all-in-all the design and the usage match pretty well.
Unfortunately with the computer the rules are turned upside down.
Here we have a device where the designers have no idea what it might be used for; and they are compelled to give it the ability to (attempt to) do everything.
Worse, we have the user dichotomy. As far as your average user is concerned, it still IS a toaster; albeit a very versatile one.
As evidence, I offer a case in point where an on-line extortionist was able to install some kind of malware onto a large number of victims’ computers and capture screen, webcam, microphone and keyboard information.
With his tools in place, and a certain skill in social engineering, he was able to coerce naked images from even the most reticent of mostly female victims.
Obviously many of those targeted were confused (please, read the article) but the amazing statement, time and time again, was that victims would be astonished by the intimate knowledge the attacker had of their lives, and that they’d wonder why the red light beside their webcam kept turning on.
According to the report, just one victim had the good sense to cover their camera to effectively disable it.
Ummm people? Surely you own a video camera, what does the red light mean?
BTW: The computer is not a toaster.
Perhaps I should restate; YOUR COMPUTER IS NOT A TOASTER! OR A COFFEE MAKER! (do I need to shout?)
To all computer owners: remember, when things start to get weird (hopefully you can identify ‘weird’), be critical in your thinking and urgently disconnect (blue cable, wireless access, whatever you have) to be sure your computer isn’t about to get you – because in the long run, it is more likely to obey a hacker’s instructions than yours.
But, of course, if your computer really is a toaster, the hackers are the only ones who know how to adjust the ‘duration’ knob.