Imagine being the recipient of a notebook for work, used by others, that was loaded with illegal malware installed content. Sounds like someone’s worst nightmare. As it turns out, it actually was. One individual actually went through what I would consider to be the worst nightmare to come of using a workplace computer. Thanks to an apparent malware infestation, extremely obscene and illegal content was automatically being downloaded on one individual’s workplace notebook.

The obscene content was being downloaded over the Verizon network and it was using an unbelievable amount of bandwidth for a workplace unit. Oddly enough, this was a malware issue and not due to newgroups/Usenet. So while Verizon is stabbing into the abyss with great zeal, the real issue – malware – remains free to download the same filth as Verizon is hoping to block…

So where does the answer happen to be here? Do we hold the ISP’s accountable? Obviously that is a logistical nightmare and totally unrealistic. What about the IT team responsible for maintaining the notebook computers? Again, not going to be very helpful as they have zero control over what the end user is going to use the notebook for. No, the answer is two fold.

  1. Establish testing from end user to end user. Because malware does not just magically appears on a workplace appliance by itself, doing a full check for malware by an IT pro before turning the notebook over to the next person is critical.
  2. As an end user, you would be crazy to take a Windows based notebook, use it and then return it without having it checked out before taking it into your custody. Obviously most people would never think of this, however that means very little at the end of the day when faced with criminal charges due to ignorance.

The moral of the story is a simple one – never take responsibility for a portable computer or long term use desktop without being darn sure it is free of malware. When in doubt, refuse. It may cause problems with your job, but that is sure a lot better than the alternative.