I'm going to proceed from the assumption that those of you who are reading this article are at least somewhat technically savvy. I was going to further assume that none of you (or at least very few) have ever been victimized by spyware or a virus, but that stretches reality a bit, don't you think? Still, how many people know someone who knows someone who does have some technical savvy?
I'm sitting here laughing because I just got an email message telling me that I'm not "man enough" for my woman and that for her sake I need to click this link. Now, my manhood is neither their business nor yours, but the whole thing got me thinking about how gullible some consumers are. I have a friend who recently asked me to fix her computer because "this thing keeps popping up telling me I have a virus or something". I went, and she had gotten a popup telling her that her computer was hopelessly infected with half a million pieces of spyware and that good ol' SpySheriff would be more than happy to clean her right up for just thirty bucks. By the time it got done warning her that some guy named Yuri was probably already applying for a Titanium-Diamond credit card in her name, she forked over the bucks. A few seconds later, she was clean! (yeah, right).
A few days after that, however, she was getting innundated with similar offers from SpyDestructor, SpyObliterator, SpyDiscombobulator, and SpyDematriculationalizer, all having found hundreds upon hundreds of "threats" that needed to be taken care of before sundown or she'd be run out of town. That's when she called me in.
No offense to my friend, but haven't enough people gotten the message yet? I don't even know how many people a week I tell, if someone uses popup ads to sell whatever they are selling, there's an excellent chance you don't want it. Consumers actually perpetuate this mess by making it profitable for these pinheads to peddle their poison. If you get an email message with an attachment you aren't expecting, don't open it! How loudly must it be yelled for crying out loud? This is especially true if the message shows as being from "Rayna", and you don't know anyone whose name even begins with the letter "R". Even before modern computers, it was an old rule when and where I grew up; never buy anything that you haven't yourself gone looking for; if some schlep shows up at the door selling anything, shine him on and tell him to sell the junk to a store and IF you should decide you actually need a gizmo to remove ions from your toilet water, you'll be sure to head to the store and pick one up.
The simple rule that would soon eliminate probably 90% of the popups would be very simple, never, ever, buy or even look at, anything advertised through an unwanted popup or some creepy-looking flash creature that walks across a web page. Personally, I'd include anything that flashed so hard it threatens to trigger a grand mal seizure, or those silly looking dogs with enlongated bodies that have a little block for every state in the US, trying to get you to sign up for a no-money-down, 800-year mortgage at a .00347 percent fixed APR.
I actually read an article once (can't remember where) in which several people were quoted saying they actualy didn't mind the popups (and spam as well), because they had gotten some really good deals through them. I don't doubt that but I still had a hard time keeping myself from thinking, "you idiot, you could have gotten a good deal on whatever it was without perpetuating that kind of trash!"
This is a case of consumers beating themselves down, saying, in effect, "come on infect my computer, it's free" to the knotheads behind every cleverly-written popup or email message. The Internet can be a dangerous enough place without it being cruised by a bunch of barely knowledgeable people with juuuust enough knowledge to be a danger to themselves and to the rest of us, who have to put up with the opportunistic mess that they make profitable. I figure, either the message is not getting out, or perhaps...
...it's not getting in.