Security should be a serious issue to anyone who uses a computer. Whether at work or home, most people are well aware of the risks associated with the internet. Trojans, spyware, viruses and other download traps are the equivalent of Armageddon to your precious computer’s hard drive and can have a serious impact on your life if your computer is infected. But, although most people are quite savvy about the security threats from the internet, the majority still don’t consider the risks associated with imported storage material such as CDs, DVDs, memory sticks and memory cards – especially those from digital cameras.
Experts will tell you that inserting any foreign data storage or transfer medium into your computer without checking for viruses first is not a wise move. Yet, most of us are quite happy to take a memory card out of our digital camera and insert it straight into our computer, or a do-it-yourself print machine in a supermarket, chemist or photo shop, in order to print off our pictures.
But a memory card is a medium upon which instructions can be written to by a computer. A digital camera is merely a sophisticated, modified computer and the cards used in it can also be inserted directly into some computers. Therefore, it is theoretically possible for someone to infect a photo memory card in their computer then insert it into a printing machine passing on the virus to all subsequent memory cards that use that machine.
Thankfully, however, even through most experts acknowledge that in theory it is perfectly feasible to infect memory cards in this way, they insist that the risk is minimal. They are keen to point out that the perpetrators will gain nothing financially from such an action making it extremely unlikely to occur. In fact most commentators put the chances of your memory disc being infected in this way at around 1 in 10,000.
But even if that minuscule risk is too much for you to contemplate there are alternatives to printing off photos at public booths. You can print at home, either on your regular printer or by using a dedicated machine that produces standard 6 x 4 prints. Currently, this is probably the most expensive way of printing digital photos. It is undoubtedly convenient, but the unit cost with a home printer can be as much as 50 pence per print. Compare that to the cost of printing photos at do-it-yourself booths, and it can be up to ten times more expensive! Uploading photos via the web to secure storage sites is also a way to get cheaper photo prints. Plus an added benefit of using that method is that it is also a convenient way to share your photos with others. By choosing to place your prints in public folders, you simply send the link to the pictures to your friends, rather than cluttering up yours and their inbox with space-hogging photographs.