Why the PC will die

We are at war.

In the 3rd quarter of 2014, over 46% of computers in Russia were infected with viruses [1]. The country with the lowest infection rate – 10.5% – is Singapore [1].

Infection rate in percentage by country

We protect our own personal computers by using personal anti-virus programs, because we think of them as personal computers.

But as soon as we plug them into a network – the place where they’re most likely to contract a virus – they become just one of many interconnected nodes. A virus on one PC can spread to a virus on another and cascade, throughout the network. The health of one PC can directly affect the health of many.

We have traditionally dealt with this by protecting our own nodes, using anti-virus software written by researchers trying to single-handedly fight back the rising tide.

Eventually, a virus will arise which will use all of the resources of the computers it has infected to attack the computers it has not infected and adapt it’s programming via genetic programming [2] until it finds a way inside. Give it enough processing resources and it will adapt faster than the researchers who try to stop it.

While we rely on individual virus protection, we are doomed. Every node will eventually perish, in a computational mis-match. One by one, they will fall. Unless we react to viruses as an entire ecosystem, pooling our computing resources to take down viral attacks, we will continue to lose the war, one node at a time.

We need to realise that together, we are only as strong as our weakest links – and we need to do it before it’s too late.

We need to fundamentally rethink computing. We need to move away from personal computers and create fully-distributed (and preferably autonomic [3]) computing systems.

The age of the Personal Computer – the PC – is dying.

Long live the CC – the Cloud Computer.

 1  http://securelist.com/analysis/quarterly-malware-reports/67637/it-threat-evolution-q3-2014/
 2  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_programming
 3  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomic_computing