First reported here almost a month ago, a Macbook AIR was hacked in about two minutes on the second day of a hacking competition after the rules were modified to give the bags-of-mostly-water a chance against the silicon (that’s man vs. machine). The best code crackers were pitted against three computers, a Sony Vaio, Fujitsu U810 and the MacBook (that little, thin one). Only when the hackers were allowed to instruct cometition officials to perform certain tasks like open an e-mail or visit a site were the operating systems exploited giving the master hackers control of the computers.
A month ago, reformatting one, broken Compaq EVO inspired this article helping other Compaq reinstallers deal with driver problems. This in turn inspired this podcast which I encourage all computer technicians to listen to. The Compaq, which was pretty much dead, left the Dinarius offices completely refreshed and revived complete with courtesy installations like Flash and JAVA and Foxit, Everest, AdAware, Kaspersky and Zone Alarm and probably a few other things I now can’t recall.
A week later, I got the call. “It’s not working again.” -but in Spanish. The owner, a dear, sweet Grandfather/auto mechanic was conned into chatting with Live Messenger. He was then coerced into downloading nearly every available Wallpaper, Smiley, ‘emoticon’ program in existance. He didn’t know any better and now suffered horrible performance and malicious pop-ups of pornographic nature (his grand daughter just turned nine and the folks responsible for Trojan downloads like that should be put away for a long time). He just didn’t know that such bad things happened.
An anti-virus, I found myself explaining to another client and perhaps to you as well, program will not detect malware that you gave permission to install. It’s not a virus; it’s a program that doens’t trigger the same defense mechanisms. One bad program begets five others and each of them five others and so on until you’re the last person to be able to use your computer.
It was extremely sad to see such a nice client so taken advantage of just because he wanted dogs on his desktop and to send knock-knock animations to his hospitalized brother in Venezuela through a chat window. The advances in computing are only rivaled by the advances in taking advantage of people new to computing. This kind of malicious hi-jacking will prevent Gates and Jobs and maybe even Negroponte from reaching the next billion computer users.