Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Over the last few years, we've been battling an array of organic malware attacks from various SARS-CoV-2 variants that have been exploiting a zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2019-05309) in host system immunity. Fortunately, prominent pharma security vendors, such as Pfizer, have made the required software patches available to thwart these attacks using the latest mRNA host cell programming technology.
Some host system operators have been reluctant to deploy the new patches, citing dubious and unsupportable claims of insufficient beta testing, an accelerated development cycle, and potential unknown system-wide effects.
Regardless, the first three versions of the Pfizer Booster have been remarkably effective in keeping hundreds of millions of potentially affected systems from undergoing emergency intervention or worse -- decommissioning.
We recently had the opportunity to put Pfizer's latest software patch, version 4, to the test, after interfacing with a pair of patched but infected systems at a local hibachi restaurant a week ago last Sunday.
Here's how we did.
Supported Platforms: Homo Sapiens
Programming Language: Messenger Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA) in a saline/lipid suspension
As with all other Pfizer Booster products, a few months ago, we brought the host system to our local services provider – in this case, CVS – for a patching appointment selected on the provider's app. Scheduling the appointment was easy, and we made it the same day the CDC communicated system eligibility for the patch. After a brief waiting period in which we perused the aisles for personal hygiene and grooming products, candy, snacks, and other items, we were asked to bring the system to the bench technician for patching.
The install process, as usual, involved the technician inserting a hypodermic needle into the host system's bicep while engaging in small talk. The total installation time was about three seconds.
Initial system diagnostic and malware simulation
Post-installation, we were notified by the services provider that it was not unusual to experience a simulated response of malware-like symptoms in the days after initial patching. In our case, this was true, with about one day of elevated CPU temperature and an additional day of overall reduced response time and sluggishness, but this was easily addressed by scheduling sufficient system downtime, where we caught up on multiple seasons of Ozark.
System response to malware infection
On the day following exposure to the Omicron malware, the infected system host notified us that we should begin extended diagnostics. While we did not see any system-wide effects on Day 1 post-exposure, we did experience symptoms on Day 2, which included congestion, fluid discharge from the fan exhaust, and overall degraded system performance. This just shows how aggressive and fast-acting Omicron Malware is compared to earlier versions.
At this point, following a rapid diagnostic confirming malware infection, we notified our primary systems care provider, and they provided us with Paxlovid, Pfizer's recently released antiviral enhancement pack. This consists of a five-day supply of a triple pill cocktail taken twice a day. Other than an unpleasant bitter metallic taste that persisted in the system tray for several days, there were no other side effects.
In addition to unplanned downtime and washing the system tray with Listerine, it required further review of other Netflix material and isolation of other systems from the infected host.
On day 3 of the malware infection, the congestion and fluid discharge became more prominent, and more downtime was necessary. We also noted an elevated CPU temperature of about 2 degrees above normal, considered mild. This temporary increase in system temperature was gone by the following morning.
On day 4, congestion and discharge were minimal, and our main concern was running out of fresh Netflix material, so we began to scour the dregs of Amazon Prime and Hulu. Fortunately, a new season of The Boys was out, as was The Orville, so we allocated additional downtime to review this material.
By day 5, mostly regular operation resumed. A second rapid diagnostic yielded a "slightly positive" result in which the test indicator was barely visible, indicating a likelihood that the system could not transmit the malware itself.
On day 7, the system finished its course of Paxlovid and yielded a negative result on another rapid test. This allowed the system to return to its regularly scheduled operations.
Assessment of Booster 4.0 and Paxlovid Enhancement Pack
It should be noted that even though we had installed all four instances of Pfizer Booster, our system host still got infected with Omicron Malware. You can take every precaution possible -- including installation of the recommended system tray/fan exhaust covers, and KN95 particle filters during mobile operations -- and still get the infection.
However, the purpose of the Pfizer Booster and its accompanying Paxlovid enhancement pack is not strictly to prevent malware infection – it is to avoid emergency system intervention and potential decommissioning. To that end, this product excels.
While we felt the effects of the Omicron Malware during this one-week unscheduled downtime event, they were not very pronounced. Additionally, the downtime's short duration demonstrates that the mRNA-coded rapid immunity response worked remarkably well and could intercept and uninstall the malware much faster than if the boosters were not installed.
A week of unplanned downtime is unpleasant, but several weeks of downtime – possibly leading up to emergency system intervention and long-term performance degradation – or at the very worst, a decommission – is a far less desirable alternative for system operators everywhere.
With that in mind, we are quite pleased this product worked as advertised, and we'd highly recommend its installation to other system operators.