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Mailbag: When Scareware Attacks, Are Your Gadgets Trying To Kill You?, More

Scareware victims have been venting to us all week. Here are some more of your thoughts, including some praise for Vista's scareware-fighting tactics:

My own laptop became infected and I could not even turn my Office on! I turned the machine off and prayed I would not have to format it. A colleague sent me this link and it worked well. I have not had a problem since running the malware removal software.

Regarding your scareware item, I am a system admin responsible for over 40 Vista machines. I've had Vista deployed since March 2007 with User Access Control enabled. The users don't have administrator rights to their box. I haven't had a single virus or malware incident reported by my users or by Symantec AntiVirus.

You tend to bad-mouth Vista in many of your articles, but you can put me down as one admin that loves it because the users can't mess it up.

Oddly enough, I can give some support to Vista on this one. After having set up a computer that I was not concerned about, I decided to put Vista to the test. I went to any number of search engines and started searching for any site that I thought might give me a nasty bug. I finally found one. I allowed the system to accept whatever was being offered despite Windows Defender screaming at me not to do it. Yup, I was then infected. Symantec AV was helpless against this new computer corrupter that I picked up and Vista sure hated it, as well. Ended up just rebuilding the system.

This along with another experience I had taught me one lesson: My system is more secure with Windows Defender on and without Symantec AV than the other way around (as you're not supposed to run AV with Defender on). To date, I haven't seen anything to prove me wrong. Now, I'm sure there are others who have had the opposite experience, and I'd like to hear from them. That way, I'll know where not to go as well. The additional experience was that I ran a test computer for around three months with Defender and no AV. I then installed AV and ran a scan. No virus. Two weeks later I had a virus; my Defender was turned off. But hey, maybe that's because I'm not using Forefront/Antigen, right?

I wrote an article re-infecting a VM with a sample malware I obtained from a client's machine, and documented all the corners of the VM that were infected. See it here.

A recent story about Mac Pros emitting a bad smell that may or may not be benzene prompted Doug to ask readers whether they fear their gadgets. One reader is keeping a wary eye on his phone:

My phone might not be popping popcorn but it sure is sending strong signals into my head. I am sure the Bluetooth isn't much better. Sometimes I feel like one of the fish in the water by the nuclear tower in the "Simpsons" after the nuclear waste has oozed in.

And while hotel Internet connections are getting a bad rap for being unsecure, John thinks they're not that dangerous. In fact, they could be worse:

Want to talk about really unsafe connections? Some workers hit the strip clubs. Maybe these clubs should offer hot spots...umm, never mind. Seriously, though -- as long as you have proper security on your laptop and only enter information on secure Web sites with certificates, it is no more vulnerable than your home network.

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on October 08, 2008