When computer disaster strikes….

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!!!!!!!!

Scary stuff.

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 Swap

By 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.

This entry was posted in Blogging the Rambler. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to When computer disaster strikes….

  1. Doug Gibson says:

    I can’t understand the mentality of a person who will decide to ^&^% up the computers of strangers, or people he or she knows, for that matter. It’s the 21st century equivalent of standing at a high-rise window and anonymously tossing rocks at someone for the heck of it.

  2. Jack Shappa says:

    Just an FYI, your info regarding Mac vs PC is incorrect. It says in either case if you closed the window you should be fine. The PC has had the override shutdown for years. It’s ALT-F4 and it kills whatever program is in focus at the time. If you were unfortunate enough to click “YES” to the virus scan on the PC then you need to follow the virus removal steps. You’re safe on a Mac or Linux if you did because the virus is written for PC and thus won’t do anything to the Mac or Linux. Fewer viruses are written for the Mac/Linux simply because of their tiny market share.

  3. Midwinter says:

    Charlie, just an FYI: there aren’t really any viruses for the Mac. Ignore any anti-virus stuff, as it’s all for PCs.

  4. Jack Shappa says:

    True viruses are rare on the Mac, but the bigger problem today (for the PC as well) is spyware and adware. The term \virus\ is often used to describe all kinds of malware nowadays though.

    As I pointed out, there is a smaller risk for Macs because of the small market share. But the Mac is not immune. It always pays to use common sense and be careful.

  5. ctrentelman says:

    i remind my wife about the mac/pc virus divide every time she has to spend another $100 to renew her norton antivirus … she is usually not amused. Mac are a smaller target, true, but they also have better security which makes them more hassle than they’re worth to attack, most of the time.

    having said that, I follow the same rule at home as I do at work with the company-provided PC — never, ever, install anything, period. At work I call tech support if something pops up, at home I just don’t.


  6. Di Lewis says:

    As long as your not wantonly clicking stuff from anonymous people, you’re not going to have a problem. Knocking on wood here, but I love my PC and haven’t had a big issue with one for… well, my whole life.

    The Macs I used to use for work crashed often and malfunctioned. While they were very pretty, they also cost waaaaaaay more than a PC costs and the Norton subscription will still be less than the cost of getting a Mac of comparable stats.

  7. Di Lewis says:

    Oh dear. *you’re* not your. Proofread, Di.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>