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Between the Confickers

Another look at the morbid world of Windows 'security'.

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Security is boring. Always has been, always will be. People on the Mac or a Unix platform don't have to worry about it much. They shouldn't have to. People on Windows don't worry about it period. They don't and everybody sees the results.

But what's a day in the life of a Windows user like?

05:00 AM

Get up to pee but also stop by to check the antivirus programs you've had running all night. Sometimes if you get to bed early they can be finished by breakfast time. Sometimes they run into snags. Sometimes it's best to get up in the middle of the night and run further tests from other companies. After all, no single Windows antivirus program can ferret out more than about 60% of all the malware on a Windows computer (and all the antivirus programs combined can demonstrably not eliminate 100% of all malware either).

05:45 AM

Spouse wakes and says it's pointless to try to sleep anymore. Maybe do some computer work. You advise spouse computers are not yet ready for further use - the antivirus programs need another hour or two to run. Spouse pulls out copy of Homes and Gardens, you pull out your PC World. You both waste away the time in silence.

07:15 AM

Time for breakfast. You stop by to check the computers. They seem almost ready for use. You and spouse sit down to a meal of leftovers - yesterday evening's Humble Pie dinner.

07:45 AM

You do the washing up and then check the computers. The antivirus programs have completed. Yesterday your two desktops only acquired 78 trojans and worms and assorted malware programs. Not bad - but you logged on late and neither of you were online all that long.

You log in and check your mail. Your computer still seems a bit slow - which is what the experts say indicates you can still have malware on board. You shrug it off.

After responding to both of your incoming messages and deleting 241 spam messages you launch Internet Explorer 8 beta and surf to the Windows Supersite. Here you can read about the coming Windows Se7en and how cool it's going to be. The latest release candidate feels 'real solid', say the pundits, and there's a buzz about it. Buzz buzz.

Your spouse calls and reminds you it's nearly time to commute to work. As you shut down your computer you admire its outright ugliness. Form over function never works, you smile to yourself. Your computer looks like it was designed by Morlocks. You feel proud.

08:45 AM

You arrive at work and are ready to log on to the network and check out a few NSFW sites when the sysadmin comes and reminds you it's Patch Tuesday. He'll have the Internet connection shut down until he's analysed the update and given his approval. You resign yourself to real work.

10:30 AM

Coffee break. Still no network or Internet. The sysadmin comes and tells everyone he needs another patch as he discovered a new malware strain on a few of the corporate computers. You resign yourself to having to do real work at least until lunch.

12:00 Noon

Sysadmin declares network is ready for use. You launch IE 6 and find your open proxy, then visit those sites you planned on checking out earlier. Good stuff. The phone rings. Somebody telling you to scoot over to a new Windows site to check out a new Conficker removal tool called Conficker Fast Removal.

Also known as downadup and kido? No it's not! It can revert back malicious changes with one click. Wow. Yawn. Cures all known modifications of Conficker? But wasn't the deal that no one really knew what the thing actually does?

Delete the file of worm itselr? That doesn't sound good. That will only leave a lot of problems caused by it like when you can't run Windows Defender! Everybody knows that!

But wait a minute. Can't run Windows Defender? But isn't Windows Defender one of Microsoft's own programs? Then how can this virus outsmart Microsoft? Is that possible?

On the countrary Conficker Fast Removal Wizard knows all possible consequences of Conficker virus. Sounds like this was written by the same illiterates who wrote Conficker. Or Windows.

Close down IE 6 and Outlook, run a few web washing routines, clean up your desk.

13:00 PM

Time for lunch. Today your companions are Bob Green from accounting and Bill White from somewhere on the bottom floor. You get a burger and fries, apple pie, and a chocolate milkshake. Nobody much talks about anything. Green's been looking at a Ubuntu system but the consensus is it doesn't have as many antivirus programs and so it probably will be unsafe. You'd need the sysadmin's approval and he's a Windows man and probably won't give it.

13:45 PM

Somebody docked their laptop without waiting for admin approval and now some virus is all through the network again. Nothing's going to get done today. Not that you care. But it would be nice to get to some of the better sports sites and catch up a bit. Doesn't look like that's going to happen.

15:30 PM

Coffee break. Everybody's pissed the network's still out. Several of the others have been told they have to do complete backups and then a wipe and reinstall. Some really nasty trojans none of the AV tools can get rid of. Can these viruses survive a wipe and reinstall?

Sysadmin comes down the corridor passing out hardcopy instructions. Seems the Tuesday patch had malware in it too so he wants to revert. Everyone is going to have to do a backup and wipe and reinstall. You look at the clock. You reckoned on getting home early tonight too. Oh well.

Damn virus writers. Why can't they leave decent folks alone?

20:30 PM

Backup, wipe and reinstall, get last 479 updates from Microsoft, reinstall four antivirus suites, check for updates, restore data files. Thank goodness you've done this so many times before. Finally you can get going homeward.

22:15 PM

Dinner, chitchat at the table, then into the computer room and check out the new Microsoft 'cheap laptop' ads. Because they're really cool. Spouse heads towards bedroom. Looks like a good idea to you too. Spouse remarks the computers still seemed a bit slow this evening.

You set the first battery of antivirus programs to run on both and then turn out the lights. The morning will be here before you know it.

As you enter the bedroom you glance back over your shoulder at the hard drive lights going blazes on both desktops as the antivirus programs start scouring for malware again. You smile to yourself.

Computers are cool.

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