You wanna know why people get viruses?

Do you want to know why people get viruses? I was visitng some people I’d set up an office network for a couple of years ago. I’d also connected them to the internet via cable modem. I stressed to them that since they’re on the big bad internet full time now, they’ve got to heed those Windows Critical Update notifications, and they should get anti-virus software as well.

A few months later, they called me back because the owner/manager of the business had infested the whole place with a virus because he’d stupidly clicked on an attachment on a vaguely worded email. This was one of these ones that send portions of your documents out to people, and in this case he was sending out client financial data to near strangers, and fortunately my wife was one of the people receiving this sensitive data so she broke the bad news to them. I came in and they didn’t have anti-virus software installed. Not that AV software is going to do you any good if youre the sort of person who clicks on unknown attachments in random email.

Anyway, back then I’d run Windows Update, and that time it had installed the Windows Critical Update notification thingy. I told them all that when they see that notification, they should ALWAYS install the update, and walked them through how to do it.

Cut forward a couple of years to today. Their wireless access point is cacking out way too often, and every time it happens they have to phone me so I can tell them to unplug the WAP, plug it back in, then reboot all the machines. (Yes, there are ways to handle this without rebooting, but this is a lot easier on me.) (Yes, I wrote these steps down, but they still phone me every single time.)

So I brought in a new WAP that will hopefully be more reliable. Plugged it in, then went around to each machine to tell it the new WEP key, and rebooted them (not that they needed it, but I wanted to make sure the new settings “stuck” because the wireless cards have really bad driver software that forgets settings sometimes).

Every single one of them, when you rebooted, popped up a warning that the AV software’s license had expired and needed to be renewed, and a Windows Critical Update notification. Only one of them had had ANY updates applied in the two years since I’d done it. It’s a wonder they weren’t all infested with Slammer and SWEN and every other virus under the sun.

I sometimes use a sig that says “You must be smarter than this stick to put a machine on the Internet”. Sadly, it seems that many people don’t meet that standard.