The time has come for the world to institute an international virus elimination effort. Not some bureaucratic project rubber-stamped by governments around the world who can point to the effort and say look at this great thing we’ve done. I want a more organic movement. I envision a legion of geeks and Windows power users in a multilevel marketing approach to virus control. Start by scanning the computers of two of your non-geek friends or family members for viruses. Set their virus software and Windows for automatic updates and show them how to install and scan antivirus on two of their friend’s computers. It wouldn’t take very many people to cover all the home systems on the planet.
My little virus removal utopia will never see the light of day because relying on novices to scan and repair their friends systems is a massive weak link in an already fragile chain of events. Still, if those able bodied geeks help protect one more system the opportunity for infections around the world goes down by a tiny fraction. Offer to let people bring their systems to church for a parishioner-wide virus elimination event. Organize a school project to educate kids about virus removal.
I’m obsessing on this at the moment because I recently deleted several dozen bounce messages related to an infected system somewhere sending out junk mail in my name. This time around it’s the attempted delivery of propaganda related to the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII from some extremist German groups. The effort takes advantage of a Sober worm variant, which infects systems and pumps out massive amounts of junk mail from anyone in the host machines address book. If I knew which person or persons I know are running compromised systems, I’d volunteer to get them fixed just so I stop having my inbox fill up. Instead, the bounces keep coming. I’m also the lucky recipient of some of the mailings too, which I wouldn’t mind seeing come to an end.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already ahead of most of the world in figuring out how to maintain your system, but you probably know someone who isn’t. As you go about your day, ask the, “are you protected?” question of friends and co-workers. It’s not that you necessarily want to open the Pandora’s box of providing free tech support to everyone you know; it’s the opportunity to potentially eliminate some of the junk from your inbox and be a small part of putting a stop to one of the more annoying plagues of the Internet. The percentage of online traffic from junk mail is astronomical, but a great deal of it could be cut down by simply encouraging uninformed computer owners to install a few patches and keep their virus definitions up to date.
Since most of the virus infections are spread via email, simply finding a free virus tool with effective email scanning will eliminate many potential problems. I use ClamWin Antivirus on many of my own systems, because I don’t want the overhead and expense of something like Norton or McAfee. ClamWin provides virus definition updates almost daily. If MSN is your ISP solution, as it is for all Qwest DSL customers, McAfee is included free with your service, but you must download and install it, it doesn’t appear automatically. AVG Antivirus offers a free antivirus too, but the updates are less frequent, making it acceptable but potentially a hole for new variants to slip through. Bottom line, there are effective solutions for protecting us all from the hassles of viruses, if we all pitch in and help educate the rest of the population. Until then, keep your finger on the delete key for the next round of junk delivered courtesy of someone you know.