Yesterday evening my student daughter arrived home for the weekend bringing a bag full of laundry, one full of books and, for a change, the laptop belonging to one of her housemates.
It seems that towards the end of last year the impoverished student could not afford to renew his AV subscription and has been, in effect, unwittingly running a malware honeypot on his laptop since it lapsed.
Fortunately for him he managed to acquire a particularly vicious FakeAV last week. The spoofed alerts and flashing warnings alarmed him but since he could not afford to pay the ransom to the bad guys he ignored them. That he couldn't visit several legitimate websites irritated him but it was not until the FakeAV prevented him from accessing iTunes that he began to complain loudly to the whole household, at which point my daughter called me for advice.
"Bring the laptop home and I'll see what can be done" was my suggestion.
So while a colleague and I have been working on this sunny Saturday, the dirty laptop has been receiving some rather special attention here at SophosLabs. I'm pleased to report that the months of accumulated malware was all detected by Sophos and that the laptop is now clean. What's more it should remain clean since it is now running an up to date anti-virus package.
It was fortunate for my daughter's housemate that he acquired such a visible piece of malware, one that loudly announced its presence to the whole household a few days before she had planned to come home for this Mother's Day weekend.
So all's well that ends well.
But I can't help wondering how many other youngsters are running the risk of surfing the internet without the safeguard of a good anti-virus tool and just how much malware they may unwittingly be spreading. Perhaps we parents should take responsibility for teaching our offspring the Facts Of Online Life and first and foremost should be the golden rule, do not surf without protection.