A couple years back, when visiting my parents in Boston, my father woke me up in a flurry of panic in the middle of the night, dragging me groggily to the computer room. Pointing at the screen, he showed me numerous desktop icons that were all directed at sites specializing in fetishistic porn sites dedicated to the sexual proclivities of cartoon characters. While my father did admit to having visited these sites on occasion “for laffs”, he uncategorically denied installing any software from them. He begged me to clean them off his computer before my mother could discover what had happened. Five minutes later, I was back in bed fifty dollars richer and my father had been introduced to scumware for the first time.
So how long does it take the average Internet luddite to just totally ruin their computer with their frivolous clicking? Steve Knopper at Wired bought himself a cheap Dell and then did all the stupid things that your parents do: click on strange email links and pop-ups, accept pop-up offers for more emoticons and search tools, correspond with Ugandan princes looking to off-shore their fortunes.
The result? 18 days later, the machine was so trashed that a computer repair technician had to cancel the spyware app, as it emitted only one long, high-pitched beep for thirty minutes straight.
18 Days of Reckless Computing [Wired]