B received an email from X today. It began ‘good morning!’, which isn’t X’s normal greeting, and contained a link. Because they’d met yesterday at an emotionally charged event, B unwisely clicked on the link. Very smart AV software warned her that this was a risky site, which had already tried to put a virus on her computer, and advised her to clean – mop it up and bin it.
At this point, B phoned me, because she’d had a similar problem last year which was even smarter. The link didn’t just download its viral software, it also fairly accurately mimicked the AV system’s response: and if you accepted the spurious advice, it went ahead and installed the virus! Well, you have to draw a line somewhere, I said, so go ahead and clean. She did, and it seems to have worked.
What happened here is that, somehow, X’s address book had been stolen and used by criminals to disseminate their warped misanthropic excrement. Why those people feel it’s necessary or appropriate to waste all that effort and brainpower is a question for the psychiatrists, not me.
When I get in my car tomorrow, I don’t expect it to behave any differently from today. I don’t expect anyone (either BMW or someone pretending to be them) to have changed the layout of the pedals or the way the lights or the indicators function, overnight, without asking me. Nor do I expect my next tank of petrol to behave at all unlike the previous one. Until computers and their operating software (the car), and applications (the petrol), subject themselves to similar principles of self-regulation and quality control, IT will continue to be an infantile industry.
Just as a debating start point for tomorrow’s G8, can’t spam detection be lit through the same Prism as everything else seems to be? That’d be a damned sight more helpful use of all that wasted effort, machinery and petrol.