Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Who sent this email? Should I open the attachment?

Last night, I received an email from someone named Steve. The email address simply said Steve. Steve? Steve who? I didn't know who this Steve was. Could it be my college friend Steve? Is it my cousin Steve? Is it some other Steve I don't even know?

And, there was an attachment. It was a file called, "HighHeelFall.wmv." Okay, so someone named Steve sent me a Windows media file.

Now, if were running Windows, there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I would ever download and open this file! First, I don't know who it's from. Second, even if I did know the sender, how can I be sure that it isn't infected with some sort of virus? What if my anti-virus hasn't been properly updated? What if it misses catching the virus? What if it's a new virus not yet identified? What if it contains a back-door Trojan which will load onto my system and steal my identity and bank records? What if it's a key logger Trojan that reords and steals all my passwords to online banking accounts, email accounts, forums, etc?

What if, what if, what if???!!!!

Let's face it, when you run Windows, you have a big, fat, target on your back. Windows is being constantly attacked by viruses, Trojans, spy ware, pop-ups, and every other kind of internet nasty out there. And it's getting worse.

But, because I run Linux, I don't have this worry. Why? Linux does not run or recognize Windows executable files. Windows viruses come in the form of an .exe (executable) file. When a Windows user double clicks this file, an installation process begins which will result in the entire system (all users, all system files) becoming infected. Sometimes these viruses disguise their file names. Folks think they are opening up a picture or text document when they are actually being fooled into launching a virus.

The simple explanation is: Since Linux doesn't run .exe files, Linux cannot be infected with a Windows virus. And the majority of viruses out there are written for Windows systems. And there are other layers of protection built into the Linux system. (See my post on Root and user accounts).

Even if Linux did run .exe files, (and it is possible, to a certain extent, if WINE is installed.), the nasty virus or Trojan would be confined to only that user's directory. (Again, see my post on Root and user accounts).

(Note: To clarify this, I checked with my Linux expert friend Matt on this point regarding WINE and Linux. Matt tells me that a Windows virus can only be executed from WINE. BUT, only if launched. This goes back to someone actually double clicking the .exe file. Bottom line, the virus would have to know to invoke WINE to invoke a Windows script or exe. The simple fix would be to delete the .wine directory and everything is gone. Even apps installed using WINE. )

(Regardless of the OS you use, always remember to periodically back up your critical data and documents).

But, safe to say, Linux does not get infected with Windows viruses. When I stated running Linux, I didn't need an anti-virus program. It's simply not necessary. And because Linux isn't bogged down with having to constantly run an anti-virus program in the background (as Windows needs to do), your system runs faster!

So, get the Windows virus target off your back. Get rid of Windows and get Linux. When you run Linux, you say goodbye to viruses, Trojans, and other nasty computer infections. With Linux, you'll enjoy a safer and more secure computing environment and experience.

Oh, and Steve turned out to be my cousin Steve. So, I confidently downloaded and played the file in Kaffeine. I wasn't worried about a virus. I run Linux.:)

And yes, the file was quite funny. Here it is.

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