So I’m sitting there Sunday morning, reading the NYTimes on my computer (Mac iBook G4, old but reliable) when I click on the next page of whatever story I’m reading, I forget what, and suddenly my screen is full of a big picture of some anti-virus scanning program, or so it says, and it’s got lots of little spinning dials and moving progress bars and whatnot, and huge flashing warnings that it HAS DETECTED VIRUSES ON MY COMPUTER AND MY ENTIRE LIFE IS ABOUT TO BE HIJACKED!!!!!!!!
It puts a little window up that asks me to confirm I want to download their anti-virus software that will save my life, and no matter how many times I click “cancel” it won’t go away and i can’t get it to stop, the window won’t close, nothing.
At least once I may have even clicked on “yes” because my computer (Yay!) asked me “You are about to download an .exe program that will install software on your computer. Are you sure you want to do that?” and I told it no, and it didn’t but still couldn’t get the whole thing to to away.
Finally, thank goodness, the Mac has a “Force Quit” function, a universal override to shut down any and all programs without shutting down the whole computer, so I did that to Safari, it went away, at last.
But then my computer was running REAL slow — did it actually install a virus? No clue. I ran the utilities, it found a lot of “permissions” to fix, and that was that, end of problem.
What happened? Apparently a virus attack that’s been establishing itself on major news outlets. The NYTimes today on its gadget web site (click here!) has a huge discussion on it, tips on how to fix it (with a mac, you do what I did. With a PC you have to buy new anti-virus software and do a lot of housecleaning – it’s complex. Am I saying this shows again that Macs are better than PC? Heaven forbid: We report, you decide.)
Anyway, it was yet another reminder, as if one should be needed, that computers are (a) becoming very critical to our lives while at the same time (b) becoming extremely vulnerable to this sort of thing, not to mention run by computer software so complex that nobody seems to be able to make it work right any more.
Anyway, less for the day: Be ware of computer viruses, never ever click on any anti-virus warning that just shows up, and when in doubt, unplug the whole thing and take a walk.
ps> NYTimes just posted this:
Times Site Was Victim of a Malicious Ad SwapBy David F. Gallagher
The New York Times Company said on Monday that NYTimes.com was the victim of an attacker who first posed as a legitimate advertiser, then started hitting site visitors with aggressive advertisements that appeared to be warnings about viruses.
“Over the weekend, NYTimes.com was the victim of a malware attack that targeted several news organizations,” Diane McNulty, a spokeswoman for the Times Company, said in a statement in response to questions about the rogue ads. “The culprit masqueraded as a national advertiser and provided seemingly legitimate product advertising for a week. Over the weekend, the ad being served up was switched so that an intrusive message, claiming to be a virus warning from the reader’s computer, appeared. ”
Ms. McNulty said that in response to the problem, The Times suspended advertising that is inserted automatically into its pages by outside ad-placement companies, and posted a notice about the attack. “We now know how it occurred and have taken steps to prevent a similar situation from happening,” she said.
We are posting information on what to do if you saw one of these ads on the Gadgetwise blog.