The impact of human activity on the environment is becoming clearer every day – and it’s obvious that we face some significant challenges in the near future. Climate change is now a headline issue and we’re all being urged to do our bit by reducing carbon emissions.

It’s no surprise then that most people think of ‘sustainability’ in terms of environmental issues. But sustainability is actually a much larger issue.

It’s all about responsible citizenship

True sustainability is actually a way of life, a conscious decision to make our global society a better place for everyone. This means thinking beyond the short term and considering how our actions affect the rest of the world.

So how does this way of life relate to malware and computer security?

First, there is the issue of malware. Computer virus infections don’t just happen, they spread from machine to machine, exploiting known security vulnerabilities. Once it has been installed on your computer, the malware will try to steal important information like passwords and payment details. It will also use your computer to try and replicate, infecting other machines on the network, or those of your contacts.

Second, there is the issue of cyberattacks. Criminals will infect thousands of unprotected computers and use them to build a botnet. This botnet can then be used to carry out sophisticated attacks against large companies or even government resources.

Sustainability online

In the age of the internet, being a considerate citizen means playing your part to help protect others from becoming victims of crime or cyberwarfare. It may seem unlikely, but we all have a role in helping to improve overall security of the world wide web.

For most of us, this is actually very quick and easy. By simply installing anti-malware protections on our home computers, we immediately reduce the risk of malware being installed. We also need to ensure that our systems are kept up-to-date, regularly installing security patches and service packs to close the loopholes that malware exploits.

These simple activities will help to reduce and prevent the spread of malware infection.

As responsible parents we vaccinate our kids against potentially fatal illnesses like polio, measles and mumps. This could not only save their lives, but it also helps to prevent a repeat of the pandemics of the past that could kill thousands of people.

Computer malware may not physically kill people directly, but the impact of an infection could be truly life changing – for the worse. As we try to live more sustainably, don’t forget to consider how every activity – including computing – has a part to play.

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