Child Porn: Malware's ultimate evil
If you lose files, you can probably restore them. If your credit gets stolen, you can eventually restore it. But, if malware starts storing child pornography on your PC, you're done. In a world where anything goes-as Paris Hilton's 'career' and SC governor Mark Sanford continuing in office after his 'hike' on the Appalachian trail shows--there are still some things you cannot do and survive in society. Near the top of that list is child pornography. Now, thanks to some particularly nasty Windows malware, your computer might be being used to store it and you may never know it until it's too late.
A recent AP report revealed that pedophiles are using "virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they'll get caught." It's not just sick people though. "Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites. Whatever the motivation, you get child porn on your computer - and might not realize it until police knock at your door."
The AP "found cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus. It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence."
Let's say though that you prove your innocence. Once tarred with the brush of being a pedophile there are many people who will never believe that you're not guilty. And, even if they do eventually believe you, in the meantime you can lose your spouse and your children, your job, your friends, and everything that makes life worth living.
As I said at the start, all the usual horrible things that malware can do to you are nothing compared to what can happen to you if your PC is taken over to search for kiddie porn or to store it.
So what can you do to prevent this? The usual: keep your Windows PC current with patches; use a good anti-virus program and keep it up to date; and never, ever click on links in a dodgy e-mail message. Better still, from a security standpoint, you can switch from Windows to a Mac or a Linux PC.
In addition, since it appears that the most common way that child abusers use infected PCs is to use them to store their pornographic files, you should use a good firewall. You should then set it to block such P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing network programs such as BitTorrent, Gnutella/LimeWire, and eMule.
These program backers don't in any way, shape, or form support kiddie porn, but their protocols can be used to carry any content. When you want to use P2P programs for your own purposes, you can simply open your firewall to these programs as needed. Windows' own built-in firewall is adequate to block these file-sharing protocols.
None of this can absolutely guarantee that your PC won't be taken over, but by maintaining constant vigilance you should be able to keep both your PC, and your life, safe from this most malicious of all malware attacks.