Monday, March 8, 2010

Yet Another Reason to Avoid Windows

In my CS class today, the computer station at which I sit was infected with all sorts of nasty malware. When I attempted to load Firefox, the virus loaded a dummy version of the program, probably designed to steal user-inputted data such as login information for various sites. Same with Internet Explorer. I found and installed a portable version of clam4win, since I didn't have the necessary admin privileges to install the normal version, and let that scan the disk for a while until class was over and I had to leave.

It found several threats, but none of them were the malicious program in question. This is most likely the culprit, as the symptoms match those exhibited by that computer exactly. I found that link via google using my netbook (running Arch i686 w/ XFCE) since I tend to avoid using Windows computers for security reasons, and using a Windows box you know to be infected is just asking for problems.

It's a typical virus that plagues you with pop-ups informing you your computer has been infected and you should buy their product to rectify this situation. This is EXACTLY the type of situation that can be avoided by switching to an open-source operating system like Linux, that allows administrators to legally alter source-code to prevent these types of threats, not to mention that Linux isn't affected by Windows viruses which inherently makes it more secure since the vast majority of viruses target the Windows platform. It is inexcusable that while using a computer on my college's campus, you run the risk of being phished. This could all be avoided by using open-source software.

Notepad was also infected, so I found another text editor on the computer, and wrote a note to the IT dept. including all relevant info and the above link and left it up on the screen. Hopefully they will realize that running large numbers of Windows boxen using Symantec's woefully inefficient AV software on a network of college students is not the best idea. I also changed the desktop background to this to further emphasize my point. Here's hoping it doesn't fall on deaf ears.

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