Last week, my wife called me to tell me that we had been infected by a virus and that she couldn’t get online without her browser being forwarded to inappropriate sites. Further, there were new icons on the desktop, nasty messages popping up all over the workspace, and a saturated network. Sounds like more than just a virus. We were hit, and hit bad. Immediately, I told her to shut down the computer, and remove the network cable. I would address it when I got home from my trip.
When I got home from Pittsburgh, it was worse than I thought. We were not only infected by one virus, but many, trojans and worms included. Complicate that with malware, spyware, adware and dialers, and you can imagine my pain trying to clean up the operating system. Whoever attacked us, got us good, however, just on the Windows XP machine. My Linux machines remained completely, and totally unaffected. Fortunately, for us, not much is on that computer of personal worth, and my wife responded quicker than I thought, pulling the network cable as soon as she noticed the attack. If the attacker got anything at all, it wasn’t much, and certainly of no value or cause of concern.
After spending several hours Friday night and early Saturday morning, I made no progress in removing the infection from the operating system. At this point, I told my wife that it was probably time to say goodbye to Windows, relying on our digital lifestyle with Ubuntu Linux and Mac OS X. The decision has nothing to do with Freedom of software, but rather, everything to do with security and peace of mind. See agreed, and Sunday afternoon, the Windows partition was wiped clean (after backing up necessary data of course) replaced with Ubuntu 8.04.1.
For me, this is a big win, being an advocate of security and Free Software. However, I believe I sense some reluctance and fear from my wife. I’m not sure if she’s going to enjoy this, as she has developed a strong relationship with Microsoft Office, in particular, Word and Powerpoint. I am confident though, that through OpenOffice.org, she will find new life in a competing office software suite, and find Ubuntu Linux not as scary as she thinks it may be.
So finally, after 5 years of being Microsoft-free personally, my family has now made that switch as well. Good Fortune is headed our way.