Sunday, May 08, 2005

Slashdot | Sober.P Worm Accounts for 25% of all Email Traffic

Slashdot | Sober.P Worm Accounts for 25% of all Email Traffic
This reminds of a friends laptop. Now there are three people living in that house. I usually am at their place, so I usually have my laptops hooked up to their local network each day. Two of them are savvy enough so that their computers are usually clean, and protected. One of them uses Linux, so thats a non issue. Also, the machines are behind a linksys home router, which acts as a firewall against the outside world. But the third roommate, is not computer savvy. He uses his laptop to listen to music, watch movies, check his email, browse the web, or write papers for his classes. They also have a server setup, which is used for hosting media. The server runs Windows (I did not setup this network, I just hang their!).
Now we have reinstalled the OS on this roommates computer a dozen times. We switched the default browser to firefox, but for some reason the roommate always manages to bring his laptop down to a crawl. There is always tons of spyware, and email viruses. The roommate agrees that he may have at some point clicked on an attachment in an email. Or clicked on some dialog opened up by a website asking to install an application. It is these kinds of people who cause the spread of these viruses/spyware. These days, we've given up, so now his laptop, is a hazard to the computers in the internal network. Also the spyware brings the computer to a crawl. So for instance, if he gets a DVD from blockbuster, the DVD skips during playback. This is a 2.x celeron machine, with 256 MB ram. This should not happen on such a config.
Since none of us care enough to do anything about it, he has taken to watching stuff on the other roommates computers, though he still uses his own machine to check mail and stuff. When the laptop reaches a point where it can no longer even go onto the web, the other computers in the house will be at risk. The question is what do we do about such a user? He has no interest in computers, and just wishes to finish his tasks, and then move on to other stuff in his life.
In stark comparision, I have been running Windows on one of my machines for about a month or two. I am using Outlook and Internet Explorer exclusively. I was wondering if I could mimic this roommates actions, and get my PC infected with the malware thats out their. No such luck. My machine, which is a 750 Mhz system with 256 MB ram, performs better than this guys infected machine. So the problem it would seem, is not Microsoft software, but the end user habits, ignorance, and laziness. The fact that they just dont have the time to deal with this stuff, or to pay attention to the dialogs that may be cropping on their screens.
One solution to the problem might be reinstalling the system, installing the required software, and only allowing the user to run as a nonadmin account. The problem is that if there is any admin stuff this guy might want to do it would require that he either bother us about it, or he logs in to his admin account to do it himself. I dont think their is any way I could convince this guy to take the time to switch between administrative accounts, and non administrative accounts.