Today I Was Sick… But My Computer Wasn’t

Coming down with a cold.

For the last 72 hours I have been ill, so has a colleague of mine, we have probably caught the same bug, let’s face it these things do go round and around an office space. Then, today I was sick, I messaged my boss and took a day off. My computer was still in the office and functioning…

Out of the last 72 hours, for 2 thirds of it I’ve been running below 50% functionality! For the last 24 hours, I was off work and feeling ill at home sleeping in bed. Net productivity? 0%

Now, I don’t know who to blame… but I’ve been pointing my finger at everyone who has come within 5 feet of me over the last week, or perhaps month.

The cost of time off work to business.

A survey from 2014 taken by 670 organisations with about 2 million employees shows that sick leave costs businesses an average of about £16 billion per year.

On average, per employee, 5.7 days a year were being taken off due to sickness. This number increases in the public sector from 5.7 to 8.1 days per employee.

Another report by the department for work and pensions made from 2010 to 2013 states that as many as 960,000 people were on sick leave for a month or more, each year, on average over the 3 years that the survey was conducted.

The report goes on to claim that employers pay out about £9 billion in sick pay and other costs, and that employees themselves are missing out on approximately £4 billion in lost earnings due to illness.

Elsewhere within the reports, because of work place illness, 300,000 people fall out of work. The tax payers are also charged with helping, by paying out approximately £13 billion a year on health-related sickness and £2 billion a year on sick pay reimbursements and other taxes.

Robots do also get sick…

I’m not saying robots are perfect computers, robots and software can get viruses too but that comes down to (mostly) human error.

Computer viruses act in a very similar way to how a biological virus would, they infect the host and multiply, its goal is to then spread to another host.

There a multitude of ways in which this can happen, a few of which are highlighted as follows;

Downloads: every time you download something off of the internet you are taking a risk, the human equivalent would be sitting next to a sick person in hospital… You might catch something, but the again you might not.

E-mail attachments: A very common way to spread viruses, we have all received emails from people that we don’t know, most of us have been taught not to open these and delete them right away.

Some people just can’t help themselves though, or have been tricked by an email that looks like it’s come from an official source (bank, online store etc.). This would be like meeting lots of  people at a party, a lot of handshaking and introductions but there is a pretty high chance that someone at the party is sick and probably shouldn’t be there.

The last but by no-means the least is removable storage, this includes media such as discs, hard drives, USB’s and SD cards, all of these allow you to moves files from one computer to another and therein lies the risk.

You have to trust that the files you are transferring don’t have any viruses (although most anti-virus software will not scan the storage when you plug it in).

The human equivalent would be sharing a drink or some food with a person, they could have something and may not even know it.

What are Viruses doing on Your Computer?

Most viruses are created to damage your computer, the virus infects your machine, it may delete files or programs even result in a machine that needs to be rebuilt.

It could flood a network with traffic which is similar to a DDoS, whereas some viruses just slow down the systems performance.

Worst case scenario for many, a virus may also be able to give control of your systems to a person that just shouldn’t have access.

Finally, and something that has more media coverage than most things, it could potently search out important information like passwords, login details, and even financial data, and transfer that information to someone else to use.

Humans Vs Robots

Most companies have many stop guards like firewalls, antivirus systems etc. in place, so it’s pretty unlikely that any virus will ever cause significant trouble assuming that these systems are kept up to date and are not bypassed.

Companies have such advanced Antivirus software these days that most viruses get caught instantly. Software is automatically updated every day (not by a human operator who could take the day off sick, but by bots) with the latest information on new potential risks.

Most companies have rules and regulations in place to stop the use of memory cards or using website blocking tools removing access to vulnerable websites that may  harm their systems.

The same can’t be said for us, there is no antivirus software for the body, at least not just yet. The only way to make sure you never get sick would be moving to the mountains and living like a hermit: Away from people!

Looking at the Numbers

Looking at the numbers and the unreliability of human employees, it is little wonder that most organisations are going to be moving more towards automation and robots.

Robots can run 24/7 without complaining, without getting distracted, without needing a break and with significantly less chance of “getting sick”.

They cost less to run, can make more and potentially save significant amounts of money every year just from not calling their boss and apologising because they are unwell.

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Post by James Donaldson

James has been with ITESOFT since late 2016. Quickly establishing himself as a genuine automation enthusiast, he is a reliable source for the latest information on Financial Process Automation technologies.

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