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Choose Safe Computing or have it chosen for you

Written by Gordon Fecyk, 12/2/2011

If you switch to a Macintosh because you're sick of Windows, you're only going to do what I'm preaching on a different system.

You just won't have a choice in the matter.

I LOST A FRIEND to a piece of Windows malware today. No, this piece of malware didn't kill my friend, but it very likely killed our friendship. This friend's desktop PC picked it up about eight hours ago, and it promptly trashed their system restore checkpoints making recovery very difficult.

I happened to log on to an instant messaging system we use when this happened. My friend told me this wouldn't have happened if they didn't follow my advice and still used AVAST instead of MS Security Essentials. So this is my fault. My problem? They didn't follow all of my advice.

I am going to fire up my MAC. Tomorrow I am going to find my Linux DVD and boot from that. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF WINDOWS. IT SHOULD NOT BE NECESSARY TO MAKE A NON-ADMIN ACCOUNT JUST TO BE SAFE ON THE WWW.

My friend, forgive me for quoting that; no one should be able to trace it to you. To the rest of you: I need this quote, because I hear it every day from friends, co-workers and Windows-haters. They're switching from Windows to Macintosh, and they're digging up an old Linux distribution, just because they feel they shouldn't be forced to use a non-administrator account by default on Windows. Ironically, both the Macintosh and all Linux distributions force non-administrator access by default.

My friend: Where do you think Microsoft got the idea from?!

WHEN I PREACH A SOLUTION to prevent unwanted software, I preach a complete solution. I only throw MS Security Essentials in there because it's a faster replacement for AVG. I don't care what anti-virus product you use, as long as you use it like any other Windows product: With the Windows Firewall turned on and with non-admin accounts for your daily work.

If you switch to a Macintosh because you're sick of Windows, that's OK. But you're only going to do what I'm preaching on Windows on a different system; you just won't have a choice in the matter. On Linux you can do your daily work while logged on as 'root,' I suppose, if you like using the 'sudo' command a lot, or if you like staring at red backgrounds all day.

I DON'T BLAME MY FRIEND for their PC being trashed. I squarely blame the greedy jokers who produce the unwanted software, and prey on the fears of unsuspecting users. I have a problem, however, with blaming me for not following all of my advice.

Switching away from Windows just to avoid using non-administrator access, is just the absurd icing on that ironic cake. Windows' competitors force non-admin access on you even harder than Windows Vista does. It's like switching cars because of poor seat belts, only to end up with a car with worse seat belts.

My friend might have learned the hard way, but I hope that by using them as an example, you won't have to.

To my friend: I hope you understand why I had to publish this.
I can't change the world, but I can enlighten a few people and spare them what you went through.
You know how to reach me if you need to.

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