Computer Diseases and the Web's Red Light District
After spending a few hours cleaning up spyware and other digital crud off of an acquaintance's computer over the weekend, I came away with mountains of damning evidence that much of it was planted on the machine after its owner downloaded a bunch of short videos from some adult Web sites. At least one of the viruses on this person's computer appears to have been planted after the user installed one of several "cracks," executable programs that you can get from dozens of rogue software sites that allow you to play pirated computer games.
No doubt there are plenty of Internet users who get spyware and viruses on their machines without even so much as setting virtual foot in one of the Web's "red-light districts." But just as in real life, there are certain types of online behavior that are quite plainly "riskier" than others from a computer security perspective.
From where I stand, if you or someone who uses your computer is in the habit of frequenting some of the seamier online neighborhoods -- particularly those that pretend to offer something for nothing -- you would be well-advised to make sure your computer is heavily secured. Otherwise, do not be surprised when that next "free download" you get leaves your computer with a nasty little rash, or worse yet, an incurable virus.
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