Evil Online: Beyond the Virus
The Internet used to be such a nice place. In the beginning, everyone played nice. They shared information about great websites and worthwhile stuff. Slowly and surely, it began to turn ugly. And with the new ugliness, a whole slew of new words and new definitions of old words were created: Troll, spam, spyware, virus, pop-up, trojan, adware, black hat, worm, malware, pop-under, rage, etc.
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There was bad stuff everywhere. Antivirus software was no longer an option; it was essential. Any new file with a .exe became suspect and was quickly quarantined by cautious network administrators. And every piece of email coming in or going out of the servers had to be checked and double checked as a possible threat.
Sometimes I long for the days when the worst you could do to your computer was accidentally drop it off the table.
Who Does These Things?
The worst part is these evils are no accidents. What all these have in common is they were created on purpose. Someone somewhere who is reasonably intelligent decided to create all the evils of the Internet. At least in Greek mythology when Pandora opened the box, she released existing evil–she didn’t have to make them.
And at least most people can understand the underlying reasons for some of these nasty things: pure profit. The online world created a system whereby money can be made for clicking links and visiting sites. With the right trojan or adware infecting unsuspecting computers, thousands of dollars were funneled into the pockets of some real jerks.
In its wake, these bad programs taught people to hate, and worst, fear some really useful programs that were accidentally sucked into the fray. Take for example the lowly toolbar. It was a handy tool to let people search the Web and visit popular sites from their browser with one click. Sadly, it got corrupted for a long time, but now they are back and are better than ever.
Online toolbars such as Zugo Bing are reminding us how good toolbars can be. Zugo lets businesses create their own customized toolbars and start pages and give to their customers. The free service lets the business get the branding they want and gives customers the powerful search capabilities, one-click access to sites and quick views of news and weather on the screen no matter what webpage they are visiting.
And best of all, these toolbars come with no evil malware or spyware. The web is still not a safe place, but it is coming back one step at a time.