A few days ago I got one of those dreaded phone calls from my sister. It went like this:

sister: “My internet is broken”
omar: “Huh?”
sister: “When I launch Internet Explorer it quits right away”
omar: “Uh oh. Did you do anything unusual the other day?”
sister: “I saw this pop up dialog thing, and I clicked something, and since then it stopped working”
omar: “You are 0wn8d”.

Seriously, I freaked out. Being 3000 miles away and being the technical life support for my family, extended family, friends of friends etc meant I could not use Remote Assistance to fix the problem. I thought of a variety of things she could do but ultimately decided that she needed to salvage and pave her machine. What a pain.

However, I went to some unrelated web page that day and it said that if you are experiencing a problem where IE unexpectedly quits then you have spyware and to go here. Great web site. I was able to direct my sister to our (Microsoft's) toll free PC Softy hotline (866) PC SAFETY where she got someone on the phone to help her out. Sadly because she didn't have an internet connection she could not download the anti-spyware tools. So she went over to my parents, burned Lavasoft Ad-aware and Spybot Search & Destroy (S&D) which nuked all the badness from the machine. I asker what happened and she said that they cleaned up a million things.

Spyware should be illegal. Users like my parents and my sister don't know any better, and Windows does a poor job of protecting them. Having said that the site and tools (and PC Saftey) are fantastic.

Comments (3)
  1. Vermyndax says:

    *most* spyware (probably not the spyware your sister installed) has EULA that clearly states what they plan to do with your system. It’s going to be nearly impossible to make that illegal, since our government lets companies write their own laws in EULAs…

  2. Uwe Keim says:

    Users should NOT work with Administrator privileges!

  3. Typhoon says:

    Make you wonder about windows Security, its internet/network footprint, I am assuming that you are running WIndows XP SP 2 with security enhancements. I have the same problem at home from time to time. I use Spybot Search and Destroy version 1.3 with updates and Ad-Aware SE V.1.05 with latest definitions, after Service pack 2 It is better specifially with the stuff spybot finds as they enhanced the widnows firewall but more needs done. I do feel for you but in a way I think that you now see the frustration that users of Windows XP even those with Service Pack 2 all patches and updates feel. Now Imagine that times about 1000 for people with no security firewall/antivirus ect. I recently took off 700 pieces of Adware (using Ad-Aware) and over 130 pieces of Spyware (Spybot Search & Destroy). I installed Sp 2 turned on his firewall and showed them how to use windows Update 5 and conviced him to pay for automatic updates for his antivirus and now they are down to about 12 or so pieces a week with most being tracking cookies. My point is We should not have to do all this work just so we can keep a clean and happy computer. We should turn off unnecessary services, lock them down when they are on. I was a beta tester for WIndows XP SP 2 and WIndows Update 5 these are steps in the right direction but are not the total solution.

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