One CNET's headlines today is, "Plague carriers: Most users unaware of PC infections. If you are the average user, your computer has more bugs than a skid row motel."
I agree. The problem is that the concept of malware is too complex for the average user to grasp. There is vague understanding of where the malware comes. When my dad's computer tells him it has a virus, he tells me he's not "going on the Internet" [with a Web browser] until I fix it for him; meanwhile, he continues to collect his email a couple times a day. It matters not that I have explained many times to him that virii tend to come through email, not Web browsers.
The industry is also at fault. Microsoft is irresponsbile in its reluctance to tackle the problem. Windows XP has firewall software, but it is turned off. XP Service Pack 2 turns on the firewall, but only for incoming traffic. And there is still no software included for detecting malware. This company from a company that boasts of hiring the smartest people in the world.
Malware-detection software fails to be all-encompassing, although the third-party industry is getting there. I use anti-virus from Computer Associates; last week they sent an email asking me to pay extra for their anti-worm package. I don't think so!
I use Ad-aware (it's free) for rooting out malware, but it suffers from false positives -- it reports problems where none exist.
And, of course, we must blame the industry for allowing malware for flourish for so long. How could it take 15 years to react effectively to viruses? All the anti-malware industry has to show are band-aids.
In unrelated news, monopolist Microsoft plans to ship Windows XP Release 2 in the summer of 2005.