I would like to tell you a story with a moral.
Last Friday, my mum asked me to fix a little application she uses called Roboform. She recently got a new laptop and I transferred over most of her files and applications, but I was having trouble getting Roboform working. Part of the reason for this is that it was an unlicenced copy that I found a crack for originally and my mum wanted me to find the serial number again so she could carry on using it as she finds it really useful. It’s shareware, which means that it’s free to try, but $29.99 to buy. (To be fair to mum, she doesn’t normal do stuff like this, all her other software is bought and paid for)
When she asked me I’d not been home and wasn’t in the mood to help her out (to my shame, I wasn’t very nice, every now and again I get sick and tired of doing everyone’s IT support and flip out, I may have been tired, whatever, I was an arsehole). Anyway, so she stormed off and did a search for the crack and then hit a link to visit one of the sites. She says that’s all she did, but, let me tell you, it unleashed a shitstorm. It resulted in near endless pop-up ads and pornography and whatever it was totally took control of IE.
I’d like to take a timeout here so that I can point out to the unknowing, stubborn or just plain stupid community of internet users. STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER. The thing is like an open door with a welcome mat to all the nasty things online. Try Firefox or Opera (which is now completely free for the full version too). And for that matter, Outlook and Outlook Express should be avoided too.
Anyway, we ended up spending the entire of Friday evening downloading bits of free anti-spam software and virus checkers to try and eradicate the numerous problems that were caused. After several hours we were left with one nasty sucker: the Rundll malware. This, it seems, is probably the hardest sucker known to man to remove. We tried all the recommended routes. She bought some of the highly recommended software for spam removal. But when we thought we’d got rid of it, it reappeared. It’s being kept at bay at the moment, but when she’s away next week, I’ll be backing up all of her files again and formatting the system to install a fresh copy.
So, there are two morals to this story:
1) When someone asks for help (especially where IT is concerned) it’s better to help at the first request than pick up the pieces later, it’ll be less hassle in the long run.
2) When you find some software that you like and find useful, PAY FOR IT. As my mum said: ‘I wouldn’t steal it from a shop, so why did I try to get a free copy?’
Let that be a lesson to all of you and hopefully you can avoid the same pitfalls.