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Internet Explorer and the Malware Alarm

I got tired of fighting a virus problem with Internet Explorer 6.0 on my Wife's computer. This was after using all types of Spybot Search and Destroy, Ad-Aware, and registry checkers/repair programs; these on top of the McAfee Security Center software that was installed on the computer to begin with.

Nothing was able to find and discover the source of the virus. I did find long file names that I could not delete or rename, but then I discovered a software program (not sure which one it was now) that allowed long file names to be deleted. I ended up deleting the software because it was only a 15 day trial period. Note: be careful which sites you download software from. Many of these are bad bad sites. Suggest using McAfee SiteAdvisor to view search results with a red, green, or yellow dot indicating which sites can be trusted, before downloading anything. I suspected that most if not all of these file names in the temporary folders was the cause of the problem. However, they may have been a part of the problem, but even after deleting the files, it did not fix the issue. The last resort was to upgrade my Wife's computer operating system and do a complete new install of Windows XP Home Edition for her which by-the-way XP and Vista have IE 7. I didn't want to go the Vista upgrade route for reasons of stability and sanity.

Here is the issue I was having in which I simply could not track down the malware program that was attached to IE 6, and just by browsing around to various different web sites, would cause a scan of the computer to be started from IE 6 itself; showing us we had an infection on her computer, or pop up other windows trying to prove to us that there was a virus infection. Then if you clicked on the scan button it would install more spyware and malware on the computer. Even the x close box in the pop-up, pop-under, and pop-in windows seemed to be triggering other items in the computer system. If you have a program that you are unsure about, I suggest using the right click of the mouse at the top bar of the pop up window and select close from the mouse menu, to close these types of windows. This seems to be the only way to actually close them completely without doing other damage.

Now, the malware alarm scam is quite the reverse logic in how they approach the unsuspecting person, in that they want to sell you software to fix the installed malware. But, the clicks that you make on this program are actually installing other programs to do more dastardly computer deeds. This is the malware alarm malware scam. Talk about an ingenious evil alarm. Man, if these folks would put half the effort into good software program development, that they put the time into programming for their evil purposes, we would be a lot better off as a society.

Note: While the Malware Alarm scam does exist, I have often been a conspiracy theorist in this area online, and wondered about the whole antivirus vs virus makers, in that maybe some of the big guys that create the antivirus software, are possibly the same people that create the viruses too. So there is a kind of dig a hole mentality to convince others that the hole needs to be filled and paid to be filled. And then, what about the the big software developer of the operating system(s)? At what point does a developer say to themselves, we are no longer going to support the maintenance and software upgrades necessary to fight the viruses or other spyware programs that are directly affecting their browser explorers? Aren't they in effect making it that we will all have to upgrade our operating systems, to go to the latest versions of Internet Explorer browsers? What if this type of virus or malware program only attaches itself to IE 6 but not IE 7? And remember, IE 7 is only available with Windows XP or above. Yes I know that all things wear out, or new technology comes along that requires upgrading, but isn't there a dollar motive (to sell new operating systems) for not maintaining old legacy software and making it so that the software programs need to be installed on newer operating systems?

OK, but you say we can simply use a different browser for going online. Well, that is only partially true. Internet Explorer is required by some programs to be used for updating software, logging on to a website, or designed to only work with Internet Explorer. Microsoft Windows Operating Systems themselves require Internet Explorer to do updates. There is no such thing as a Microsoft Windows operating system without Internet Explorer built in to the foundation of the operating system. Yes you can use Firefox, Opera, Flock, Safari, SeaMonkey, and others to browse the Internet. But, no matter what, if you have a Microsoft Windows Operating System, you will be coming back to Internet Explorer at sometime, for something, and that is when they will they will make their catch. I also believe that the 2000 trial of United States vs. Microsoft did not go far enough in breaking the direct tie between IE and Windows Operating Systems. To this day, it appears that nothing has changed, even though under the settlement IE and Windows were to be separate divisions at Microsoft. I don't believe anyone at that time envisioned what the driving forces would be online.

United States vs. Microsoft

United States v. Microsoft, 87 F. Supp. 2d 30 (D.D.C. 2000) was a set of consolidated civil actions filed against Microsoft Corporation on May 18, 1998 by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and twenty U.S. states. Joel I. Klein was the lead prosecutor. The plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power in its handling of operating system sales and web browser sales. The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer (IE) web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system. Bundling them together is alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft's victory in the browser wars as every Windows user had a copy of Internet Explorer. It was further alleged that this unfairly restricted the market for competing web browsers (such as Netscape Navigator or Opera) that were slow to download over a modem or had to be purchased at a store. Underlying these disputes were questions over whether Microsoft altered or manipulated its application programming interfaces (APIs) to favor Internet Explorer over third party web browsers, Microsoft's conduct in forming restrictive licensing agreements with OEM computer manufacturers, and Microsoft's intent in its course of conduct.

My personal opinion is there is more going on here than meets the eye.

The dissenting states regarded the settlement as merely a slap on the wrist. Industry pundit Robert X. Cringely believes a breakup is not possible, and that "now the only way Microsoft can die is by suicide." Andrew Chin, an antitrust law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who assisted Judge Jackson in drafting the findings of fact, wrote that the settlement gave Microsoft "a special antitrust immunity to license Windows and other 'platform software' under contractual terms that destroy freedom of competition."

Freedom of Competition

There are many things that can destroy freedom of competition online. Keeping Internet Explorer so tightly linked to the Windows Operating System happens to be the number one reason in my book. Yes, these are my opinions but they are also the opinions of many others too.

As far as the settlement is concerned, nothing has changed at all.

On November 2, 2001, the DOJ reached an agreement with Microsoft to settle the case. The proposed settlement required Microsoft to share its application programming interfaces with third-party companies and appoint a panel of three people who will have full access to Microsoft's systems, records, and source code for five years in order to ensure compliance. However, the DOJ did not require Microsoft to change any of its code nor prevent Microsoft from tying other software with Windows in the future. Wikipedia

So, look at where we are today. Do you see any difference?

Anyways, these are a just a few of my thoughts.

Jim Warholic
Professional Web Services, Inc.

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