Yesterday my friend brought his three year-old desktop PC to me to fix the Malware that had taken it over. The reason this is significant is that he is a VERY typical home PC user with simple tastes and unsophisticated computing needs. Here’s the scenario:
The PC is an off-the shelf Compaq PC with Windows Vista and Internet Explorer
He connects it to the Internet via Cox Cable at home.
He uses Yahoo Instant Messenger and Skype occasionally.
Cox provides a system protection solution from McAfee.
When I checked the machine I found one of the many well-documented malware exploits that had prevented him from using the computer without paying a demanded ransom.
After using a boot sector workaround, I was able to install a malware removal product that cleaned the machine of the offending exploits. The log file revealed that the exploits had injected themselves into executable files in his user directory. They had names like Acrobat.exe and Skype.exe . After cleaning, purchasing, and activating a well-known malware product, I attempted to automate a live scan for him. It wouldn’t, because of the existence of the McAfee virus protection that Cox had given him. He would have to use it manually until he could work something out with his ISP – who had led him to believe that he was already protected.
And now the punchline. What’s a person to do?
The PC world has become so complicated that an average user must spend an inordinate amount of time and money just trying to use an appliance for simple things like looking up the ball scores. Updates every day. Protections against stupid intrusions. Vulnerable Internet connectivity.
You don’t have to do this for your coffee maker, microwave, TV, or even cellphone. The builders and providers of these devices make certain that you have a simple, working appliance.
If the participants in the ecosystem of the PC, the hardware makers, operating system makers, Internet Service Providers, and – regulators like the FCC and other agencies – don’t make changes soon, the PC will vanish.
Yes vanish. It has become far to complicated and expensive to last. And I’m sick and tired of it.