Giving "Casuals" the Virus-Metric

Brandon Stout bms at
Sun Feb 8 20:28:50 MST 2009

Hash: SHA1

Daniel C. wrote:
> I have, somewhere in my brain, a metric that I use to determine
> whether downloading and installing software is going to be hazardous
> to my computer.  I acquired it by working in tech support for many
> years, one of which was spent at Sento on the McAfee account.
> Apparently it's very good because, although I have used Windows for my
> desktop machines almost exclusively, I do not make it a habit to use
> AV programs and I have not been infected once since I got the job at
> Sento back in 2001 or so.
> But for most people - my family members specifically - putting in a
> year working tech support just to learn how not to install stupid crap
> on their system isn't practical.  I've tried communicating my
> virus-metric to them, but have so far failed completely.  (Usually I
> say things like "If it seems suspicious, don't click it."  We clearly
> have different standards for suspicious.)
> I'd like to put together a short article or white paper that will give
> casual computer users the tools to tell what's going to mess up their
> system and what isn't.  The problem is that, while I can tell what's
> dodgy and what isn't, I don't know how I can tell.  Can anyone here
> help me out with this?
> Thanks,
> Dan

I also worked at Sento, and supported McAfee products until 2001.  Did
we ever meet there?  You might remember Game.exe.  Send it to them.
It was really a McAfee add, but it acted like a Virus.  It said
something like "are you sure you want to delete c:\?", then it kept
moving your mouse to the OK button no matter where you tried to move
it, and it clicked "OK", then showed the files deleting until the add
came up.  After they get it, tell them never open an attachment in an
email, don't surf port or warez sites, or what game.exe showed them
might really happen.  You might also show them how to tell when a link
says, but really goes to, and
tell them never to click such a link.

After that, tell them they are probably safe, but there are still no
guarantees without some virus scan product, especially if they are on
a network.  A virus scan product is such a minimal thing with today's
processing power and RAM, it's worth the trivial cost, especially
since there are free ones out there.

Brandon Stout
Stout Hosting LLC
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