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What a Hacked PC Can Be Used For 364

Posted by kdawson
from the fifty-ways dept.
An anonymous reader points out that the Security Fix blog is running a feature looking at the different ways hacked/cracked computers can be abused by cyber scammers. "Computer users often dismiss Internet security best practices because they find them inconvenient, or because they think the rules don't apply to them. Many cling to the misguided belief that because they don't bank or shop online, that bad guys won't target them. The next time you hear this claim, please refer the misguided person to this blog post, which attempts to examine some of the more common — yet often overlooked — ways that cyber crooks can put your PC to criminal use."
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What a Hacked PC Can Be Used For

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  • They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:22AM (#28139269) Homepage Journal

    Over the years I've offered help staying secure to friends, co-workers, etc. and I've learned that they just don't care. Most people only want help in one situation- when they have a virus that interferes with their computer working properly. Then they want it removed so they can go back to doing all the stuff that got it on their machine.

    If you don't believe me - tell someone who isn't a tech person to go read this blog post. A week or two later ask them if they read it. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say over 90% wont.

    Or talk to someone like that about security. Watch as their eyes glaze over and they look for a way to escape.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      this is soooo true.

      I have coworkers who do downloads 24/7 from their home computers (no MAC spoofing, no TOR, no proxies, no nothing).
      When asked about the dangers of being caught (even as a remote possibility), the answer was the same: "I don't care!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        MAC spoofing is not useful in concealing your identity online. It's generally just used to bypass filtering by MAC addresses on local networks (think wifi).

    • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AtomicJake (795218) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:33AM (#28139391)

      Same experience here.

      However, I told people all those issues that are mentioned in TFA. The response of my friends? "So what?" -- They do not feel responsible for malware running on their computer. Somehow, I can even understand them; they just bought a computer and pay an ADSL line -- why should they care if their computer is broken by design (e.g. needs an update before the first connection as it was the case with Windows XP before the computers have been delivered with SP2 installed)? It's hardly their fault.

      • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gnick (1211984) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:07AM (#28139779) Homepage

        The solution is obvious (albeit ugly). Punish the user. We are a long way from having a "secure" OS - I use Windows at work and both Windows & Linux at home and have used them for years. They both used to be swiss-cheese concerning security and both have improved dramatically, but neither are secure nor will they be any time soon.

        1) Any ISP relaying openly malicious traffic needs to face consequences for it - Force them to self-monitor.
        2) ISPs will start threatening users responsible for malicious traffic with disconnection.
        3) Users with compromised connections will either have to start caring about security or give up Internet service.

        I can feel the flames rising around me - They're welcome. As long as when you shout me down for this ugly step "forward", please present an alternative solution more insightful than "OS designers need to fix their security", 'cuz nobody's hit end-game yet. (Or "4 - ???" "5 - Profit", please... It's tired... But it did appear very recently in the WSJ as an analogy for Obama's stimulus plan - How cool is that!)

        • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:21AM (#28139917) Homepage Journal

          Any ISP relaying openly malicious traffic needs to face consequences for it

          Now define "openly malicious". Here are some minimal pairs to consider when legislating what traffic will invoke consequences:

          • Are port scans malicious? Are port scans initiated by the target computer's administrator malicious?
          • Is an attack intended to crack your phone malicious? Is an attack intended to crack your phone malicious if you initiated the crack in order to install an app that the phone's maker doesn't like?
          • Is copying Photoshop Elements malicious against Adobe? Is copying GIMP malicious against Adobe?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gnick (1211984)

            "Openly malicious" is really tricky - I'll grant you that. But before going for the borderline cases, I'd start at the ones that are more "open".

            E.g.
            * E-mail with 1000s of recipients that are readily identifiable by postini-style filters as spam.
            * Packets containing known exploit strings that are currently "popular" for compromising PCs

            Now, ideally I'd like a system that didn't require these kind of measures. Short of that, I'd like a system where I could at least have a warning from my ISP so that I coul

        • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Interesting)

          by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:40AM (#28140151)
          Your solution isn't ugly at all. I think it is necessary. People's compromised computers cost other people money and do harm in helping to spread malware, are used as repositories for stolen information, etc.

          Holding users responsible probably opens a legal can of worms, but I think that is coming too. Once users are held responsible, ISPs will be held responsible - not only for the damage their users do, but also by users for letting malicious traffic to the user's computer. Software manufacturers will probably also end up fighting class action suits over security weaknesses.

          But when some crime group blackmails a web site with a DoS attack, it's all the compromised computers that do the heavy lifting. There should be some responsibility there. Acting as repositories for stolen files and such should also carry responsibility.

          There is a responsibility in owning a computer and putting it on the net. Everyone has sidestepped that issue for far too long. If someone's computer does me harm, then why shouldn't they be held responsible?

          I think with all of the attention that cyber crime is now getting, holding people responsible to at least some extent will be inevitable. And I know there are lots of ways to hide which computers are contributing to DDoS attacks, but if a computer is discovered with lots of stolen data on it, attributing responsibility gets a lot easier.
        • Re:They don't care (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Zumbs (1241138) on Friday May 29, 2009 @12:11PM (#28140547) Homepage

          Some time back, a Danish bank blocked the access of 8.000 internet bank users, as the bank could link their computers to ip adresses that might be infected by a trojan. They suspected that the trojan could be used to get access to the bank accounts of the 8.000 users. Thus, they sent (snail)mail to the customers in question that told them that they had to reinstall Windows before they could do their banking online again.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The ISP at my university when I attended and was in the dorms would actually detect if your computer were compromised and was sending out spam or whatever, and they would turn off your ethernet connection at your room wall port until you proved that your computer had either been cleansed or until they sent one of their own IT guys to try to clean it for you. Taking this to a broader scale to consumer ISPs is really the only best way to treat this by centralizing the responsibility. Of course if not handle
      • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Interesting)

        by oldspewey (1303305) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:23AM (#28139941)

        They do not feel responsible for malware running on their computer.

        There is one exception ... one thing that scares the bejeezus out of most people ... and that's when you tell them their computer is being used as part of a kiddie porn ring. Somehow, when people learn that their machine is being used to host images of 8-year-olds being sexually abused, they suddenly take the concept of computer security a lot more seriously.

        Not that I'm advocating anybody should tell a devious lie to a friend in order to make him/her smarten the hell up ... I'm just saying is all.

        • by maugle (1369813) on Friday May 29, 2009 @01:02PM (#28141205)

          Somehow, when people learn that their machine is being used to host images of 8-year-olds being sexually abused, they suddenly take the concept of computer security a lot more seriously.

          Not that I'm advocating anybody should tell a devious lie to a friend in order to make him/her smarten the hell up ... I'm just saying is all.

          There's absolutely no reason to lie to your friend in the name of security.
          Just compromise his machine and put some kiddie porn on it. For bonus points, notify the FBI and wait near his house with a folding chair, some soda, and a bag of popcorn.

          ...or was that what you do to enemies? Crap, I have some apologizing to do.

    • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ae1294 (1547521) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:35AM (#28139417) Journal

      I agree, I worked at a computer store doing service for many many years and I would see the same old people over and over and over again. I would tell them to just stop installing kazzzza! or stop browsing seedy porn sites but they never did and it was always their teenage son's fault.

      (If it was me i'd ask how to lock him out after the 5th $100 reload) - didn't always need a reload just saying...
      I even offered to explain to them how to setup a bios password and sold special case locks for three bucks... no takers.

      They would however, always be very mad at me for not preventing their computers from getting reinfected. I guess they expected I would create some sort of magic barrier for them.... I donno... It's funny hearing "I'll never come back here AGAIN!" from the same person and then see them back in two months or so....

      People don't mind going out to the bar and spending $200 on shots but don't try and charge for fixing their porn box or you'll get beat...

      • They would however, always be very mad at me for not preventing their computers from getting reinfected. I guess they expected I would create some sort of magic barrier for them....

        I quite natural assumption, don't you think?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by LanMan04 (790429)

          I quite natural assumption, don't you think?

          No, not really. If I take my 1991 minivan offroading, break a bunch of stuff, and take it to my mechanic to get it fixed, I would expect my car to break AGAIN if I took the same actions AGAIN.

          The very definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

      • I fixed a computer for a family member by having it auto-boot a VMWare image. Underneath the XP client, the machine runs CentOS 5.3 with the latest VMWare server. It's configured to automatically use a snapshot image so the original image is never touched. If there's a problem it's a simple matter of rebooting and selecting a revert option. Once it boots, it autologins as a non-priv user and starts the guest then opens the console (google the VMWare forums for instructions on doing that).

        • by jonbryce (703250)

          Only problem is they will now ask why their iPlayer and YouTube videos look like slide shows.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by anjilslaire (968692)
      Agreed. People simply use their PCs (and Macs) as appliances, with no thought whatsoever of using it *properly*, or learning how to use it safely. It's like leaving your door unlocked when you go out for the day.
      • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mh1997 (1065630) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:59AM (#28139705)

        Agreed. People simply use their PCs (and Macs) as appliances, with no thought whatsoever of using it *properly*, or learning how to use it safely. It's like leaving your door unlocked when you go out for the day.

        I wonder why people would use a computer as an appliance. Could it be that the OEMs, software companies, and retailers are selling the computer as an appliance for online shopping, banking, and entertainment?

        I wonder why they don't care when they are repeatedly told by the software companies that their brand of OS is very secure and it even has a "red, yellow, green" warning system to show how secure it is.

        I wonder why users (who are told their computer is so simple to use properly, that there is no training required) don't train themselves?

        From the time people are old enough to use a lock, they are told by parents, teachers, police, media, etc. to lock their doors.

        There is no comparison for the average person regarding computer security. If the software companies cannot provide the level of security, without training, that they promise, then there should be a warning constantly flashing on the screen telling the person that anything and everything on that computer is likely to be stolen or used to commit a crime.

      • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:06AM (#28139773)
        "People simply use their PCs (and Macs) as appliances"

        That's like saying "people simply use their cars (and automobiles) as vehicles". A Mac IS a PC too, its just one where the same vendor controls the hardware, software and outlets.
        • Well yes, and one whose vendor actively differentiates themselves from PCs in all of their advertising (which is everywhere), and whose competitors do little to disabuse that notion.

          In other words, a Mac is a PC which nearly everybody involved in the industry acts like a Mac is something different from a PC. You can hardly blame people for picking up on that.

      • by zogger (617870) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:26AM (#28139989) Homepage Journal

        Consumers want a secure easy to use web surfing appliance, but it is unobtanium to them. I mean wtf, why isn't this obvvious yet? Not everyone is a computer nerd and specialist, most people aren't, and they have no huge desire to become one, they just want to surf the net. The computer industry just freeking *insists* on selling them devices that actually take a fairly high level of sophistication to keep running smooth and clean, because it makes them shedloads more money. Megaboatloads. The only web surfing appliances that have been on the market have mostly all sucked and been grossly over priced, and we all (here) know that.

        And the computer repair and fixit industry doesn't want more rugged and fool proof net surfing appliances either, cleaning up borked windows machines is a multi BILLION a year industry. I bet for most whitebox shops it might be the bulk of their income. The computer hardware makers like borked computers because they get people on a hardware upgrade path once the consumer has been pwned a few times and people just decide a brand new machine will be the magic fix.. The operating system industry wants borked because they get people on an upgrade path, again, get them thinking/hoping new version "Grand Horizon 7.0 XPU" will be the magic fix.

        This won't change until we have software lemon laws and consumer warranties.

          If a product is not "suitable for purpose", in this instance being on the net 24/7, without having to be a computer expert and installing a crapflood of other additional software, etc, this will just continue. Once it starts costing computer sellers and operating system sellers serious coin because of defective by design products, then things will change for the better, just like what happened in all other industries. It's the last industry with legalized "caveat emptor" out there, the magic get out of all legal responsibility EULA.

        Obligatory car analogy: What would you think of paying big bucks for a new car, then finding out after you left the lot that you needed an additional entire trunk full of tools you needed to purchase and carry around with you all the time and at least a medium professional/serious gearhead hobbiest level knowledge of car mechanics in order to drive all the time?

        That's the situation with computers and software today. Don't blame the end user all that much for getting broken computers when that is all they are provided with in the first place, no matter how much they spend on them.

    • by RulerOf (975607) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:39AM (#28139465)
      Of all the people I've done computer work for, one of the worst offenders is a man who owns a small business I do side work for. He would somehow manage to acquire viruses at alarming rates.

      It stopped when I forced him to use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, and set him up with a limited user account and told him he'd need to log out or switch users to an administrator if he wanted to install something.

      Hasn't had a problem since.

      Everyone else I've tried that (or something similar) with is too obstinate or stubborn to recognize or believe when I tell them that they're actually clicking "Yes please, install this virus on my computer" over and over again, every time they want a new free, useless desktop widget or application or game produced by a company no one's heard of... that just has to have Admin privileges to run...
      • by daveime (1253762)

        told him he'd need to log out or switch users to an administrator if he wanted to install something.

        Which of course doesn't help, as most people WANT to install free screensavers or 100 new smileys for their email. The whole "switch to an admin account" merely serves as an annoyance at first, and then becomes rote after a few installs.

        It's only useful for tech-types, who of course are more likely to take care what (and from where) they are downloading, run a virus scan on it, and hence be the group most unl

      • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:28AM (#28140003) Homepage Journal

        I tell them that they're actually clicking "Yes please, install this virus on my computer" over and over again, every time they want a new free, useless desktop widget or application or game produced by a company no one's heard of

        What company that you've heard of publishes applications like Pidgin [pidgin.im] or games like Lockjaw [pineight.com]? But because these are free software, it's more likely that someone has looked over the source code for you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AtomicJake (795218)

        I agree, this helps to an extend. But then: Is it my business to make the damned PC secure, disable IE, and create a new user account? Or should this be the case, when I get the PC in the first place? And, btw, I twice got a PC that was infected before I actually did the first update -- it was infected within 2 minutes after having an Internet connection. If this is not a case for warranty, I do not know what is.

        And when we are on it: The worst thing is the 30 day trial period of an antivirus. Ensures

    • Re:They don't care (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Auction_God (1056590) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:46AM (#28139543)

      Most people only want help in one situation- when they have a virus checker that interferes with their computer working properly.

      There, fixed it for you. Most virus checkers are worse than the viruses they protect you from.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Most virus checkers are worse than the viruses they protect you from.

        Would you recommend something like ClamWin doing a weekly scan?

      • I was just fixing someone's computer from a hard drive failure (was able to rescue all the important stuff off of it) and he has norton with an expired subscription, and it displays a pop up asking you to resubscribe every day. That's not too far of from malware that pops up ads on your desktop.
    • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

      by castironpigeon (1056188) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:46AM (#28139545)
      It's just human nature, nothing to get upset about. The idea is basically this: is it more trouble to learn how to use a computer properly or to get it fixed when, on occasion, it stops doing what you need it to do?

      I'd say it's much worse that people treat their vehicles the same way, but the same line of reasoning applies. It's more trouble to be a safe driver and maintain your vehicle in proper working order than it is to deal with the occasional hassle of a fender bender or possibly death. And if the possibility of dying isn't enough to get people to change their actions then I really don't think lecturing them about malware is going to do the trick.
      • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:04AM (#28139745)

        There is a point at which people want an 'appliance'. Be it your car, computer, yard, HVAC, water conditioner or toaster.

        There are people who never clean their toaster. And when it dies they toss it and get a new one. This is no different than someone who buys a new computer everytime they get a big malware hit.

        Everyone is guilty of neglecting SOMETHING. It's not just that it's human nature but the time you spend keeping your computer up to date your grandparents may have spent keeping their guns polished. And I'm sure your grandpa knows someone who treated their guns like appliances. Tossed them in the dirt, never cleaned them, let them rust, etc.

      • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QuantumRiff (120817) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:29AM (#28140027)
        Two words: Kiddie Porn.. First virus or worm that creates a P2P botnet for distributing Kiddie Porn, and not only will Nancy Grace and all the news channels talk about it all day, every day, but people will start getting arrested, since HAVING it on your computer is a federal crime. Then, and only then, will things change with respect to security...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by element-o.p. (939033)

        It's just human nature, nothing to get upset about. The idea is basically this: is it more trouble to learn how to use a computer properly or to get it fixed when, on occasion, it stops doing what you need it to do?

        Maybe. But it starts to get really tiresome when it's your spouse you are talking about (so the work is pro bono, and you *can't* just say no when they ask for help), they insist on using an OS that you don't like to administer (Windows), they insist on using software that requires admin privileges to run (Quicken, for example), they ignore your advice about having the kids use their own non-admin privileged accounts to play on-line games, etc., but they still blame you when *once AGAIN* the computer does

    • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:47AM (#28139573)

      This is unfortunately very true. Several of my co-workers bring me their machines from home every few months to fix and 90% of the time none of the Windows updates are installed and the anti-virus software is either outdated or completely disabled. I finally sent an email to all employees that I will no longer fix any non work machines. My main reason is that they seem to think that my expertise is worth nothing to them..none of them have ever offered to buy me a pack of beer, much less pay me for the hours I spend on their personal computers, but also because it's extremely frustrating that they don't really care about preventing the problems in the first place.

    • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

      by causality (777677) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:54AM (#28139657)

      If you don't believe me - tell someone who isn't a tech person to go read this blog post. A week or two later ask them if they read it. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say over 90% wont.

      I'm going to assume here that you're implying they say "ok" when you tell them to read it. I think this is a more general phenomenon and isn't specific to computing at all. Lots of people casually say they're going to do something with no intention of actually following through, which makes me wish they'd just decline the request up-front. It's like their word doesn't mean anything to them, so they give it carelessly. Of course, they wouldn't dare do that to their boss at work, because he has ways to make them regret it, meaning this is merely a selfish trait and doesn't require any explanation more complex than a weak character. It's one of those things that has become common but that does not make it normal.

      Or talk to someone like that about security. Watch as their eyes glaze over and they look for a way to escape.

      That's what I like about security. It's one of the few things where that sort of childishness and inability to deal with the real-world situation just won't fly, at least not for very long. An ability to put on an act and go through the motions won't protect you from the cleverness of the black hats; you need to actually have some understanding of what you're doing and why you're doing it. I think that's why people don't like this topic and consequently don't want to take even the more basic precautions. Whether they admit it or not, they resent finally encountering something that requires them to think, that cannot be reduced to a short list of simple steps that they can execute mechanically.

      The technical information needed to maintain good computer security is abundant. It is easily found via Google. I think the real problem here, the reason why nothing seems to seriously improve, can be found in the mentality with which security is approached. That mentality, in turn, can be shown to have its roots in the way people have become during the last few generations, particularly their short attention spans and their addiction to convenience and instant results. Security is just good at exposing these things because its rules and concepts are like the laws of physics: the principles are sound and all the wishing in the world won't change that.

    • Re:They don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:58AM (#28139699) Homepage

      The answer to this is to put the "personal" computer into context. PCs really stopped being personal computers the moment the availability of internet access became the norm. They should be called "social" computers now, but most people don't think of them that way.

      How you put the "social" computer into context varies from person to person. I have a family member who I support who knows little about how computers work, and barely knows how to use one. He happens to be very politically minded, in a right-wing hardcore military patriot kind of way. I forward him some info about the Chinese hacking into US military and government networks and "cyber warfare" and that woke him up. Now he thinks it's his patriotic duty to keep his antivirus updated, and not open email attachments. I have very few problems from him these days, and the last few have been due to his security software being *too* tight. He thinks any problem he has with the computer could be a virus, as opposed to a bug or human error, or whatever, but he has gained enough sense of paranoia that he's made his usage habits a lot safer than they were when he was first going online.

      You just have to find the right button to press (in the person, not on the computer) and then the rest will follow naturally because they finally care. If the user's a businessman, play up financial scammers and anarchist punk hackers. If the user's religious, invent satanic hackers. If the user's a leftist, talk about The Man and government spooks. If they're a concerned parent type, talk about child predators.

      • Insightful. I'll have to think about this for a while, and find a way to start putting this into practice. If I could offer one suggestion though...:

        If the user's religious, invent satanic hackers.

        The concept of satanic hackers seems over the top -- the threat just doesn't sound real enough. However, the threat of spammers relaying porn spam through their PCs is plausible enough to motivate a lot of religious users. If porn spam isn't distasteful enough, then ask "what if it's rape porn? kiddie porn?" That should do the trick.

    • Yes, exactly.

      ME: Ya twit, you've been browsing half the porn sites on the web, and downloading EVERYTHING - here are the logs. Here are 50 sites that have made various black lists because of malware. And you have NO security policy or applications.

      TWIT: Don't tell my Mama! Can you just fix it?

      ME: Of course, I can "fix" it, but YOU have to "fix" the way you browse the internet. Let me install apps x, y, and z, along with an antivirus, and I'll fix the hosts file, and download some black lists.

      TWIT: Will

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:26AM (#28139311)
    Based on what I see in movies, they can be used to blow things up, crash alien space ships and steal Sandra Bullocks identity.
  • Dissapointing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by splug (992725) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:28AM (#28139335) Journal
    I was hoping for a bit more from this article. As i read through it I was hoping to see reasons or impacts to the user. There was only a couple of very light examples. There is a very big need for people to understand how a Hacked computers, they own, can impact them. If it doesn't hurt them they aren't going to care. This is just FUD until it becomes personal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Until it's personal, I'm fairly sure it's not FUD. If people don't care, they won't experience F, U, or D.
  • Don't be a patsy! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:32AM (#28139381)
    Lately there's been a LOT of attacks on military servers and data thefts of sensitive info. You do NOT want military techies to trace this back to YOUR machine that's been used as a proxy for some 15 year old script kiddie!
    • by Krneki (1192201)
      What can they do about it?

      If anyone should get a fine is Microsoft or whoever is responsible of the software. If your car suffers a breakdown and you hit somebody, who is to blame? The answer to me is not simple and obvious.
      • When the cops come to arrest you for the bot net's hacking crimes, do you really think they'll care about your innocence pleas when they're holding you face down with a knee on your neck?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by plague3106 (71849)

        Your fault; you didn't maintain your car properly.

        • by Krneki (1192201)
          Possible yes, but how can you exclude a car manufacturer error or a mistake in the car service?
      • If I break into your car and use it to rob a bank, would you come after me or your car company?
        • by Krneki (1192201)
          Am I responsible for my car? To some extend I am, but if I have done all that is required by the law to make it secure, then there is nothing against me.

          Again, if I'm required to maintain my PC secure by law, so are the OS providers.
          • The point is that I am the person whom you should be going after, not the car maker.
            • by Krneki (1192201)
              You take you car to the official service, they make a mistake. Your tire comes off and you hit somebody.

              It is your fault?

              The point is: you can't blame someone just because you think they are wrong. You need proof, but once you get your proof they might point to something else. In this case a poorly designed OS by M$.
              • by causality (777677)

                You take you car to the official service, they make a mistake. Your tire comes off and you hit somebody.

                It is your fault?

                Though I have worked profesionally in this area, this is just my unofficial personal opinion. I know that in my particular state, your insurance company would consider such an accident to be your fault and would charge you accordingly (higher rates, surcharges, etc). My state does not have no-fault accidents so your mileage may vary. It makes sense from the perspective of the other

    • by Knara (9377) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:43AM (#28139519)

      What? Sorry, American Idol was on and I got distracted.

    • by node159 (636992)

      Ignorance is bliss.

      Do you really think they will bother with someone who obviously has just nearly grasped the ability to turn the 'hard drive' on?

      Honestly, what fantasy world do you live in?

  • A computer worm that spreads through low security networks, memory sticks, and PCs without the latest security updates is posing a growing threat to users blitheringly stupid enough [today.com] to still think Windows is not ridiculously and unfixably insecure by design.

    Despite many years' warnings that Microsoft regards security as a marketing problem and has only ever done the absolute minimum it can get away with, millions of users who click on any rubbish they see in the hope of pictures of female tennis stars having wardrobe malfunctions still fail to believe that taking Windows out on the Internet is like standing bent over in the street in downtown Gomorrah, naked, arse greased up and carrying a flashing neon sign saying "COME AND GET IT."

    Microsoft cannot believe people have not applied the patch for the problem, just because they keep trying to use Windows Genuine Advantage to break legally-bought systems. "Don't they trust us?" asked marketing marketer Steve Ballmer.

    Millions of smug Mac users and the four hundred smug Linux users pointed and laughed, having long given up trying to convince their Windows-using friends to see sense. "There's a reason the Unix system on Mac OS X is called Darwin," said appallingly smug Mac user Arty Phagge.

    "It can't be stupid if everyone else runs it," said Windows user Joe Beleaguered, who had lost all his email, business files, MP3s and porn again. "Macs cost more than Windows PCs."

    "Yes," said Phagge. "Yes, they do."

    Ubuntu Linux developer Hiram Nerdboy frantically tried to get our attention about something or other, but we can't say we care.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Whalou (721698)

      millions of users who click on any rubbish they see in the hope of pictures of female tennis stars having wardrobe malfunctions

      Link please!

    • A computer worm that spreads through low security networks, memory sticks, and PCs without the latest security updates is posing a growing threat to users blitheringly stupid enough [today.com] to still think Windows is not ridiculously and unfixably insecure by design.

      But, but but...that's just because there are more Windows computers in use than Mac and Linux combined!

  • Take on PC and put it on an unsecured internet connection and see what happens.
    Or set up and FTP server with no security and wait.

  • by lupine_stalker (1000459) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:36AM (#28139447)
    A hijacked computer submitted this story!
  • Users won't care (Score:5, Interesting)

    by node159 (636992) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:38AM (#28139455)

    Having read over the list I can tell you with absolute certainty that the common user will not care for one specific reason:

    None of the items listed affects them directly.

    Computer security for the common goo does not interest the average user one bit, ultimately the responsibility falls of the developers of the compromised software for not designing the software in a safe and secure way. In my home I run ALL PC's on limited user accounts, this should have been made standard 8 years ago when the push for security came about. The unwillingness to enforce this of most fundamental security provision highlights that:

    As well as the average user, developers don't care about security either.

  • I've been online since mid-1995, and never suffered an attack, aside from a couple minor virus infections from pirated games.

    Until recently, I played the tin-folied-hat, security/privacy paranoid nutjob, being very careful when visiting unkown or shady sites (always using FF or Netscape back then), stacked under layers upon layers of AV, firewall, NAT router, anti-spyware/malware, anti-trojan, and whatever other crap Symantec and McAffee could sell me. I couldn't buy/download/update enough secuity software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bobfrankly1 (1043848)

      I scan my PC once a year, just to be safe, and still nothing!!

      Oh, you use Antivirus2009 as well. Sad.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do you scan it offline or online? As in, do you boot from external media (which you created using an uninfected PC) to run the scan, or do you do it on the machine?

      My parents machine was dumping out spam (verified with wireshark) even though AVG said it was clean and updated. I installed other AV softs, same thing. I copied softs like stinger to external media, booted a PE disk, still clean.

      I finally downloaded an .iso with AV built in on my linux box, burned it, and rebooted the infected PC with it. Al

    • by davidwr (791652)

      If you do these easy things you will greatly lower your risk profile:

      1) Install a NAT or other hardware firewall that blocks unsolicited incoming traffic
      2) Never visit the Internet except known-safe sites
      2b) Pray the known-safe sites never get hijacked or have off-site ads or other content
      3) Never insert a thumb drive or other media except from a trusted source. Copying your factory music CDs to an MP3 player that's never touched another machine is okay, but that's about it.
      4) Make sure everyone using your

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I was reinstalling a PC at work, started it downloading/installing the 50+ updates it needed, after SP1 was installed ....got called away ....

      Next day remembered I had not finished it ... had an error on the screen, and the System32 folder had only *6* files in it!

      The error was two viruses fighting each other for control and one losing .... ...all this while logged in as a default user, and behind a NAT and firewall .....

      Needless to say the machine was wiped to the bare metal and reinstalled .....

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      As it turns out, unlike Symantec, McAffeee et al would have you beliveve, COMMON SENSE goes a very long towards keeping your PC safe. Best of all it's free!!!!

      It's not as common as you would think.

    • by Kozz (7764)

      Congratulations, you've won the fool's lottery!

      The simple fact is that it's pretty hard (not impossible) to defend against 0-day exploits, no matter how much common sense (or paranoia) you might have. I suppose you run with NoScript, FlashBlock, AdBlock, etc?

      I'm knowledgeable and informed (hey, I'm on Slashdot, right? [tongue-in-cheek]). I had a work laptop that was p0wned because a rogue advertiser sent a specially-crafted PDF which exploited a hole (amongst many, surely) in Adobe Reader (aka Acrobat).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Krneki (1192201)
      Cool, now improve the security by using Firefox + AdBlock plus. Since most of the viruses come through advertisement, removing them makes your surfing more secure.
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:46AM (#28139547) Homepage Journal

    I'm tired of the press and so-called "experts," taking the Chicken Little approach to security, personally. There are a few basic ground rules; if you follow them, 90%+ of the time, you're going to be fine.

    1. Ideally, don't use a Windows machine on the Internet. (Yeah, right) If you must, however, don't browse sites devoted to smilies, ringtones, custom mouse pointers, or that sort of crap...you're asking for it that way.

    2. If you use Linux or FreeBSD, use sudo. Do NOT be an idiot and just use root all the time, and don't use sudo without a password on it, either.

    3. Use multiple disk partitions. On Windows, that means you can reinstall faster if you do get hit by something, and on Linux or FreeBSD, it hopefully limits the number of places an attacker can go.

    4. Realise that while virii/trojans might be common on Windows, actual live attacks on individual machines (i.e., with an actual human 14 year old on the other end) are rare almost to the point of rendering the scenario academic. That's not to say that they don't occur at all, mind you, but there was this absolute paranoid idiot who I saw being interviewed a few months back, who was declared an, "expert," who spoke of using virtualisation and various other gratuitously overblown means of keeping people out of his systems, and also advanced the theory that the entire Internet could effortlessly be destroyed in around five minutes flat.

    5. Virus scanners on Windows are hugely overrated. Use one if you must, but I've never seen an infested Windows box that didn't have multiple virus scanners running, thus proving that in the grand scheme of things, they really don't do all that much. A better idea is to learn to identify the types of sites that virii can typically be picked up from, and avoiding said sites.

    Basic, minimal security, up to a certain point, is of crucial necessity, IMHO. Beyond that point, however, most paranoiacs are actually hobbyists who don't realise it. Their obsessive measures aren't truly as necessary as they think they are; for the most part they do what they do more simply because they like it, than because they actually need to.

  • My hacked PC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:46AM (#28139555) Journal

    If I can no longer read files because of changes to proprietary formats,
    if I cannot play media because of DRM,
    if I cannot use my hardware because proprietary drivers don't exist and the manufacturer won't release the information needed to create an open-source driver,
    if I cannot obtain security updates because my OS is wrongly deemed to be an unauthorized copy,
    if I am not allowed to install the software that I buy on any PC I choose without having to call for permission,
    if the software on my computer calls home without my explicit permission,
    if the software on my computer transmits information about my computer without my explicit permission,

    I have lost control of my computer and it has been hacked.

  • Many people respond to the security issue with the idea that a PC should be plugged in and "just work" with no further effort on their part.

    Think of the responsibility one has when purchasing a motor vehicle. There are numerous safety issues that the operator must address. Plus, you don't just park it and leave the keys in the ignition (illegal in many places) so anyone else can jump in and drive it around.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday May 29, 2009 @10:53AM (#28139647) Homepage

    "What do you make of this hacked PC?"

    "Oh, you could make a boat anchor, a fish tank, or a flower pot!"

  • HELP (Score:2, Funny)

    by buttfscking (1515709)
    Why is my mouse moving all by itself!?
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:38AM (#28140131)
    which save their lives, what chance is there to voluntarily inconvenience themselves, to stop bad things happening to others. Most of the hazards in this article don't materially affect the hacked individual. Yes, if your machine sends spam out, that's bad, but only for the people who receive it. So their selfish natures come to the fore: on the one hand I can do nothing, on the other I can make my life harder so that a bunch of people I've never met get a small amount of less SPAM / porn / whatever.

    Couple with this, the article is full of fuzzy words like: potential, could, may, can, possibly. There's nothing in it that says, authoritatively that anything bad will CERTAINLY happen if you don't secure your machine. Hell, people exceed the speed limit 'cause they don't think they'll get caught. Imagine what they'd do if there's not even a chance of any financial penalty for wrong-doing or laziness.

    In the end, appealing to the average Joe's sense of community responibility is a non-starter. There's got to be mandated security that cannot be disabled. It's got to work all the time and it's got to be ubiquitous. Until then, the situation won't get any better.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      which save their lives, what chance is there to voluntarily inconvenience themselves, to stop bad things happening to others.

      Regarding seatbelts: I've had better luck explaining to people that in a crash, seatbelts aren't there just to save their lives, but also that of their passengers. In a side-collision, if the driver is not wearing a seat belt, but the passenger is (or vice-versa), the one without a seatbelt becomes a bouncing projectile, injuring or killing the "safe" person in the seatbelt.
      This argument appeals to the same people that never tried to quit smoking until they had kids ("I'm only hurting myself. A baby? Ti

  • by Captain Spam (66120) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:42AM (#28140195) Homepage

    The problem, in my opinion, is that people who don't seem to care about computer security are the sort of people who abstract a computer into real-world analogues and stick to that, hard. That is, they're the sort who've been taught how a computer works solely by comparing it to things they know outside the computer world (i.e. "your hard drive is like a big filing cabinet and you don't need to care past that", "email is just like getting letters, just over the internet!", "the media player is like a big jukebox with all your favorite songs!"). Anything that doesn't fit in their real-world analogue system is for those stupid smelly nerds who exist solely to fix your problems when they inevitably happen.

    And that last part is where it starts to go wrong. Try explaining computer security to a non-techie. If you go from the technical end of what's happening, they'll get confused and ignore you. If you go from a real-world analogue method, you'll be inventing all sorts of fantastical explanations that, to a real-world person, sound patently absurd, the stuff of fantasies and science fiction for those stupid smelly nerds who exist solely to fix their problems when they inevitably happen.

    For example, they'll think you're out of your mind when you tell them there's botnets trying to break into your computer(s) endlessly without rest, and they don't care who you are or how rich you are. Try explaining that in a real-world or sorta-real-world context: There's an army of zombies on your lawn, they feel no pain, they want to get into your house, they will never stop, your brains are as good as anyone else's, and unless you stay on the ball, they WILL get in and make you one of them (not to mention the fact that, of course, we don't want zombies on the lawn). Does that sound like something anyone outside the computer world would take seriously?

    They can't see it, they can't abstract it out to anything that makes sense in their minds, they don't know how it would happen, it sounds really stupid, so you're the crazy person, and they can go back to cheerfully installing smiley packs. End of story. Unless there's some way to explain it that doesn't bore them, test their attention spans, or make them think we're the crazy people, they're going to ignore security concerns and just assume it's someone else's problem. Like those stupid smelly nerds. They don't have anything better to do, just staring at all that white on black text all day long.

  • by AnAdventurer (1548515) on Friday May 29, 2009 @11:42AM (#28140201)
    You buy a nice convertible car and you are out driving it around. The sky is cloudy and it looks looks like rain. What do you do and who responsibility is it to put the top up?

    1) Do you wait for the car manufacturer to install a rain sensor (now that you are on the road and you see that it sometimes rains, that would have been a good option to get) that will automatically put the roof up when it senses the first rain drop?

    2) Do you pull over before it rains and put the top up to be safe?

    3) Do you drive around with the top down blaming the car maker for designing a car that can get wet and/or doesn't keep the rain out automatically all the time forever?

    How is computer security different (metaphorically speaking)? I am sorry, but we all know it's up to the user.

  • by droopycom (470921) on Friday May 29, 2009 @02:08PM (#28142165)

    My ass!

    I dont follow any either because nobody can even agree on what they are.... Like password rotation.... The most stupid "best practice" I've ever seen.

    So my wireless is wide-open, I never change my passwords... and because of that I have a good life.

    That may change, but nothing I can do will significantly change the odd of it happening without making my life miserable with stupids annoyance to start with...

Per buck you get more computing action with the small computer. -- R.W. Hamming

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