For the second day in a row, I’ve had to listen to a sob story about home computer malware infections. Both situations were completely avoidable.
In the first story, a woman’s husband let his friend use their computer while she wasn’t home. His friend visited several porn sites and the computer got infected with pop-up porn ads. She doesn’t know how the system got infected, but after doing a complete malware scan, the computer identified and removed three pieces of malware.
In the second story, a man let his cousin use his computer while his cousin was staying with him for a week. The cousin visited several porn sites and fell victim to some type of fake anti-virus software that completely trashed the computer. The man is going to spend the weekend backing up his data and completely reinstalling everything on his computer.
If you’re going to allow your friends and relatives to use your computer, you really need to lay down the law as to what they can do and where they can go on the Internet. If they want to check their email and social media sites, that’s fine, but they should not be opening email attachments, downloading software, codecs or plug-ins – and definitely not visiting any porn sites. If you’re lucky, they won’t pick up any undetectable malware that will rear it’s ugly head in the days that follow.
If you want your friends and relatives to be able to do “whatever” on your computer, the best thing to do is setup a virtual machine like VMware Player (free) or VMware Workstation for them to use instead of your regular desktop environment. While a separate log in account for your regular desktop might seem like a good idea, it won’t do any good against malware that is able to obtain administrator permissions via some type of exploit or buffer overflow.
Your friends and relatives are probably very nice people, but when it comes to computer security, you may end up finding out the hard way that they are your worst enemy.