The deadly virus of mobile [Archives:2007/1062/Opinion]

June 25 2007

Khalid Al-Dhahbani
As days pass, we go through several technological, cultural, political, and oil-related technologies. We move from one century to another while our minds, as Arabs, remain the same without development and continue to imagine what is unbelievable and unreasonable.

Televisions, space channels, computers, and cell phones appeared with all their sophistications and techniques that made information closer to us than anything else. But, thanks to our foolish cleverness, we employed such devices and systems in what serves our surface and simple beliefs. The space channels discuss the topics of jinns, black magic, and dreams. Further, it sparks sectarian conflicts while the Internet is used for gratifying the lusts and discussing futile matters that only waste money and time, as well as the mental energy.

The last example of such futile matters is that of the mobile's deadly virus, which transmits via cell phones to kill those who answer calls of certain numbers that allegedly carry the virus.

The bad thing is that such rumor came after the Yemeni Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology sponsored an international conference on the electromagnet radiations and how to reduce their risks. Up to 70 percent of the work papers discussed at the conference were merely meant for spreading awareness about radiations produced by the mobile devices. That most important thing is that the conference concluded that no risks are caused by radiations coming out from the mobile devices. Up until now, there has been no scientific research to confirm any risks associated with the ordinary use of mobile devices.

It is clear that our understanding is totally different from what really happens and that our actions are constructed in a way contradicting what is happening in real life situations. Such rumor came from the Gulf countries and stretched to reach Yemen with the same influence on people, and due to the social nature and norms of Yemenis that facilitated leakage and spread of the rumor nationwide, particularly among women, the rumor has been repeated several times until it came true for people.

The disgusting thing is that we hear educated youths, seemingly aware of what happens around them, speaking that the virus penetrates into the brain and kills human beings. The youth's faith in this false rumor is the deadly virus. Nobody could dare ask him/herself about the computer's virus; what is this virus and how does it grow and spread, and what are its risks?

The Internet and space channels are available in every house and libraries, spread everywhere, but the statement given by the Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology is usually misunderstood. “As the government denied such stories, these stories are real.” The statement is understood this way.

There is no smoke without fire. The government fears any bankruptcy of mobile companies. Finally, a statement was released by an official source at the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology to be published via the three mobile service providers to their subscribers. The statement raised questions and rumors among Yemeni people, particularly those living in rural and remote areas.

The computer or mobile virus is merely a small program, which was prepared by experts who are skilled in computer sciences and engineering. They are experts but they use their skills in constructing small risky programs that rapidly spread into computers and destroy any available or stored data. Sometimes, computers become unable to work in case they are infected by such viruses.

The program is composed of computer orders, which are usually written in numerous computer languages. The computer can work only through these programs, and this similarly applies to the use of cell phones, remote control devices, and other automated systems.

I think that the 'terminology' helped promote the spread of such rumors, as any risky programs were given the term 'virus', thus modelled after the viruses that infect human beings. Why is this terminology? The risky programs of computer and mobile devices were mistakenly named 'viruses' because these programs spread via the computer and Internet networks. No computers or mobile devices can escape these viruses except for the immune ones that have anti-virus programs.

The risky programs were given the terminology of viruses because they spread easily and simply like the flu viruses. They aren't like the viruses that infect human beings, which are animate cells that nourish and reproduces in the infected human body. Some of these viruses cannot be overcome unless there are strong antibiotics that help strengthen the body's immunity system. On the contrary, the computer viruses are inanimate and cannot be seen via the microscope or any other means. They cannot be touched while the virus-infected computer can be treated easily, however, reputed computer companies suffer heavy damages due to the loss of valuable data.

The terminology of virus was given as a caution or a warning to the computer users in order to maintain a high level of vigilance to protect their computer and data from such malicious viruses, which were supposed to better be given a name pertaining to what they do to computers, mobile devices, and the consequential damage they leave on machines and gadgets, as well as the stored data.

After this simple definition of the computer and mobile viruses, I believe that everyone has become confident that programs written by Latin letters have nothing to do with the health of human beings.

Source: Al-Thawra-Stat-run daily