Doom for Windows (Bonus points if you get the reference)
In previous articles, I’ve mentioned the inevitable doom of Microsoft. Once in a million years, I’ve been known to exaggerate, and say that Microsoft’s shoddy products are the root of all evil. Pain, famine, hunger, and warfare are Microsoft’s fault, in my opinion.
But does all the evil in the computer world disappear when they’re gone?
The answer is, unfortunately, no.
Even when Microsoft “kodaks itself” out of business in a few years, there are still other ways in which scammers can take advantage of consumers.
Every day, people call me up thinking their computer is slow due to a virus. A flood of emotion surfaces within me, because I know I have to clear up a lot of misconception. Most people pay a computer guy $300 to run a virus scan, then shrug his shoulders and leave when any other problems are presented to him. That’s a scam unto itself.
The fact is, viruses aren’t the problem for consumers anymore.
THE NEW THREATS ARE:
1: Garbage protection software that can’t protect you from the new threats and are the real reason computers are slow. I service countless customers every year, and immediately upon removing the garbage protection software, the computer is faster than they’ve ever seen it, and usually the problems that prompted them to call me vanish.
Norton, McAfee, ESET, F-Secure, Kaspersky, Avast, and even newer versions of AVG slow down the computer IMMENSELY by implementing paranoia on your machine, and cannot protect you from the other New Threats.
Norton is like a gypsy: “Pay me money or I’ll prick you with this pin!” Recent versions of WIRED magazine are featuring ads from them. Why? I thought most new PCs were pre-infected with Norton when you bought them? Well, because the “new” devices (those new non-Microsoft portable things like iPads and Droids) are (for all practical purposes) immune to viruses and run only pre-approved software anyway. Thus, the ONLY malware on Android phones are things Norton and Lookout that break into your mind rather than your device. Ironic.
Note that there are a few programs out there claiming to clean or protect your Mac. These are all destructive.
2: Toolbars, which are legal spyware made by gray-market companies. They are spyware, but since they’re legal, no protection software can detect them. They monitor you and they cripple your web browsers. They usually hijack your homepage and search engine settings, monitoring and monetizing anything you search for. (They’re rampant on Windows machines, but a few are possible on Mac and Mint machines for the most reckless among us.)
3: Nigerian-style scams (as discussed last time). These fake virus scans will be much less ubiquitous in the non-Microsoft future, but phishing will still be possible.
4: Update attackers. Adobe and Java are not only backdoors for viruses, but THEY THEMSELVES attack for updates constantly. If you appease one of these updaters, you’re taken to the official website and given the update- with malware such as “McAfee Security Scan” stuck to the package. Luckily both Adobe and Java are poised to join the ranks of Eniac and Commodore very soon. However, Verizon Android phones are a good example of updates that routinely go sour. NEVER appease an update attack.
5: Stowaways. Windows users should NEVER GO ONLINE AND SEARCH FOR A PROGRAM (e.g. OpenOffice, or Firefox). Scammers such as Softonic and EZ-Download will pounce on you with ads at the very top of the Google/Bing/whatever page. Click on any of them and you’ll be sent to their website, where you’ll receive a poisoned version of whatever it is you wanted. Instead, go to openoffice.org, or firefox.com, which are the official sites.
Likewise, DO NOT SEARCH for things like file openers or drivers. 100% of them are scams.
6: Bloatware. Luckily Mac and Mint machines don’t come with any, but most Windows PCs COME STRAIGHT FROM THE FACTORY PRE-POLLUTED with malware that slows the machine down FROM DAY ONE. As we enter the post-Microsoft world, we’re seeing Bloatware on things like Samsung Android phones now. Never buy them – they’re so obsessed with fancy window animations and the “Lookout” fake security nagware, that the phones are horribly slow out of the box.
7: and finally… INDIAN STYLE SCAMS. Indian-style scams are a vile plague this decade. We’ll talk about them next episode.
What you can do
It’s not a new world – it’s just people abusing people in new ways, and it’s no longer a black-and-white good-guys-and-bad-guys world.
Whenever possible, avoid Microsoft computers the plague they are. They even destroy themselves for fun. If you have one, use ONLY Security Essentials to protect it.
As far as the other scams, there’s nothing besides a little bit of common sense. If you receive a phonecall from an Indian telling you they’re Microsoft and you have a problem, hang up on them. If you see an email from your bank asking you to confirm your details, delete it. If you’re trying to download something, make absolutely certain you’re at the official download site and not some bad-grammar scam site.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more!