Many of my friends think that I lean towards a “scare them to death” philosophy, when it comes to the Internet. I often get badgered with “friendly” questions such as – “Don’t you ever see anything good about the Internet?” Or, “Don’t you get tired of scaring people with all your talk of the dangers on the Internet?”
Frankly, I find it enormously depressing writing on malware, scareware, Browser exploits, and all the other exploits that continue to threaten our enjoyment of the Internet. Testing and recommending new software, is much more appealing.
But, when all is said and done, I’m left with this question – if I don’t educate my friends, and by extension, my readers, who will?
Just to be clear – there is no doubt that the Internet can provide a rich educational and cultural experience, at a minimum, but at the same time, it is virtually impossible for users not to be exposed to the underbelly of the Internet.
The sad reality is, the majority of computer users are undereducated when it comes to recognizing the dangers, and threats, that the Internet poses to their computers and to their personal privacy. This is a case where, what you don’t know can hurt you – big time!
For this article, rather than me get up on my “the Internet can be a dangerous place” soapbox, one more time, let me offer you two edited comments from readers following recent articles.
The question that arises from both these comments might be – if a technically sophisticated computer user finds navigating the Internet hazardous then, is an average user now essentially at the mercy of cybercriminals?
The first comment is from Mark Schneider, a high level “super user”, who occasionally guest writes on this Blog.
I agree with you about personal responsibility being paramount; even the careful user can get into trouble. My daughter borrowed my old ThinkPad recently – she needed it for doing research for the colleges she’s applying to. Everything seemed fine when I used the machine again.
I did a routine scan and MalwareBytes found 15 Trojans and at least one rootkit. I was not amused, and when I checked the browsing history, virtually every site (she visited), had been an .edu site. I looked into it and found out many .gov and .edu sites have been compromised.
I’ve gone to using “No-scripts” extension with Firefox as well as the usual tools. And frankly, outside an enterprise firewall I’m beginning to question running XP at all anymore. Many applications don’t work well when running as a limited user so, you end up running as admin.
I’ve begun test running Open Solaris, in a virtual machine, to do online banking and going to my eBay account. I don’t want to sound paranoid but, Windows users are at risk every time they go online. I think Vista and Windows 7 are more secure than XP if you turn the (much hated) User Account Control to maximum protection, but then people complain about convenience.
Unfortunately convenience and security are two diametrically opposite realities – it’s very difficult to have both while running Windows online in 2009.
Sorry about the rant but I guess I’m a little frustrated as well.
The second comment is from reader RHH who occasionally comments here.
As a recent victim of an infected link on Goggle, and having previously installed the new Panda Cloud anti-malware service, I wonder why Panda could not stop the auto loader malware as the malware certainly was in circulation longer than the 6 minutes Panda touts as their ability to mark a malware and neutralize it. I would add that not even the WOT had marked the infected link as unsafe.
Also, I hope Firefox can give us a way to selectively stop the browser from restoring a session and restarting an infected web site after having shut down a computer.
I also wonder why Goggle cannot get the links in their system screened to prevent, or at least minimize, malware from being passed forward to the users. If Cyveillance Blog can screen and find 250,000+ problem sites, cannot Google do the same and counter attack somehow?
It honestly seems like major players like Google, and others, also have a stake and responsibility to work at getting the malware out of their links before we run into them – no matter how hard we work at avoiding problems.
So what do you think? Has the Internet now reached a critical mass in terms of cybercrime?
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