Malware, Network Security

Infected in a Flash

ESET Ireland is coming up with some interesting survey-generated material these days, and Urban Schrott's humorous presentation doesn't do it any harm. In a recent blog, he tells us that “One in three Irishmen regularly exposes himself, five percent of Dubliners don't use any protection, but Irish women are less likely to spread infection.”

However, it turns out that this is not the O'Kinsey Report.

Years ago, when much of my job was second-/third-line support, I'd regularly come across end-users who wouldn't or couldn't update their anti-virus. (There was much less automation in those days. In fact, I spent a lot of my time every month checking and tweaking the monthly updates. The product we used was very good, but not as good in a Novell environment as it might have been. No, it wasn't ESET's!) Then there were people who'd log a call for a virus-unconnected problem, but when I got there I'd routinely check their AV and find it was either disabled or even replaced with another product. And there were the real superstars who opened something apparently malicious just to see what would happen.

“No, you aren't actually infected with anything, but you've been tricked into opening spam and causing me to waste an hour of my time coming to check your system.”

Well, better that than putting your system clock forward to see what happens to your Michelangel-infected PC (I think Alan Solomon reported that one, it wasn't one of my customers, anyway).

Well, pleasant as this walk down memory lane is, that was then, this is now, and everyone knows better, surely? Well, apparently not.

In the survey commissioned by ESET Ireland, it turned out that while 66 percent of users always reacted appropriately to warnings from their AV product while they were online, a surprisingly high proportion stay with a risky site out of curiosity, run a program flagged by AV as dangerous because they want to run it, and even disable AV so that they can run a program or access a website without a big red malware warning getting in the way. And the group that takes the most risks is, apparently, young male Dubliners.

Urban remarks that, “It may seem like a paradox, but less computer-savvy users are treating security much more carefully.”

Actually, that maps to my experience in corporate support. People who are slightly nervous about technology, follow recommended practices,. And, when they're not sure, may ring the service desk more often, but their problems tend to be easier to solve. It's the self-styled guru who doesn't call for help until he's already trashed his system (or worse, someone else's) who is likeliest to have you spending your weekend rebuilding systems.

And the James Joyce connection? Just as Urban couldn't resist an innuendo, I couldn't resist a literary reference and musical reference double whammy. And that probably tells you something about our respective ages.

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