VIRUS!

No, that’s not the title of the latest Jim Cameron 3-D spectacular.  It’s what happened to me last Thursday while researching a couple of articles on the net.

I click on a secondary page and bingo, a screen pops up with a big warning that says, “YOU HAVE BEEN INFECTED WITH A VIRUS, BUT… Don’t worry, we’re running a complete scan of your system to detect and remove all infections.”

I’m feeling relived for the moment when I begin to notice something strange.

Another window slides into view from the left.  Apparently, it’s checking my e-mail account.  Reading through the countless addresses that fly by, I don’t recognize a single address.  A few minutes more and the addresses seem to be repeating, as if on a loop.

Now a RED screen pops up in the middle of all this and alerts me to the “VIRUS” attack, again.  “But… don’t worry,” it says, “We can remove these.  Just click here to register.”

Wait a second.  This isn’t a Microsoft alert or Norton System Works notification that runs my security.

That’s when I realize two things:  1) The virus scan is really a virus SCAM and; 2) Thank God, I back-up my system with a separate, portable hard-drive.

I call the A-Team of computer specialists, Make It Work! to get right on it, and who do they send?  Wyatt Earp, no less!  (Well, Wyatt really is his first name.)  He comes.  He works, and although he has successfully extracted the additional data that I had not yet backed-up, “…the operating system on your computer, Jim has been taken over by a very aggressive virus,” Wyatt tells me.  In other words, the Clanton gang succeeded in shooting down my operating system… permanent.

When I was in High School, the prank of the day was flushing a cherry bomb down the toilet, making for a loud explosion and a lot of inconvenience.  They closed the bathroom and we all had to use the gas station across the street.

Computer viruses, however, inconvenience thousands, perhaps millions of users.  Researching this brought me to “computer hackers.”  However, I quickly discover that there are several kinds of hackers.

According to Wikipedia, there are “white hat” hackers, who break “…security for non-malicious reasons, for instance testing their own security system. This type of hacker enjoys learning and working with computer systems, and consequently gains a deeper understanding of the subject. Such people normally go on to use their hacking skills in legitimate ways, such as becoming security consultants.

“A grey hat hacker is a hacker of ambiguous ethics and/or borderline legality, often frankly admitted.

“A black hat hacker, sometimes called ‘cracker,’ is someone who breaks computer security without authorization or uses technology (usually a computer, phone system or network) for vandalism, credit card fraud, identity theft, piracy, or other types of illegal activity.”

Then there’s the infamous “Script Kiddie.”

“A script kiddie,” Wiki says, “is a non-expert who breaks into computer systems by using pre-packaged automated tools written by others, usually with little understanding. These are the outcasts of the hacker community.”

Outcasts by the community.  They’re engaged in the same illegal/unethical work as hackers, but they’re outcasts. Who knew that hackers had their own sense of integrity?

Sitting atop the pyramid is the dreaded Hacktivist!

“A hacktivist is a hacker who utilizes technology to announce a social, ideological, religious, or political message. In general, most hacktivism involves website defacement or denial-of-service attacks. In more extreme cases, hacktivism is used as tool for Cyberterroism.”

Now, there’s a subject for the next Jim Cameron movie!

My question:  why can’t we convince these guys to attack real terrorist sites?  What a coup it would be if one of these guys zapped Osama bin Laden’s iPhone with a dead-in-the-water operating system virus!

Think of the possibilities!  Al Qaeda brought to its knees by the ultimate smart-bomb, a cyber-virus.

Although I’m working from another laptop, I’m still not running at full capacity.  I promise to be back at 100% as soon as possible.

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