odd time signatures

iPhone Hell

After reading Thomas Hawk’s ongoing saga of his iPhone non-connection, it sounds like AT&T could stand to study Doc Searls’ discussions of Vendor Relationship Management (VRM). It’s going on 48 hours without being able to get an active connection to it and it looks like he may have to wait until Monday. He’s been live-streaming the whole aggravating process on ZooomrTV.

While I’m sure it’s infuriating, it’s nothing less than I’d expect from AT&T/Cingular. They have an incredibly annoying way of making the simplest things impossible.

But here’s something that’s really important for anyone who hasn’t got an iPhone and wants one. Alex Eckelberry of Sunbelt Software is reporting an attempt to use social engineering combined with malware/adware to lighten your wallet by $500 or so.

If your system is infected, a popup ad comes up that looks like this:

(Click the image to see it larger in a new browser window)

You can’t buy iPhones on the Web from Apple or AT&T. (See Apple’s Where to Buy page) They’re only available in Apple or AT&T stores. While I’m sure that there are Ebay listings for them by now, neither Apple nor AT&T will be popping up ads in your face. Alex has screenshots of all of the screens along with more details about how the spyware infection can be identified.

So if you happen to see one of these, assume your system is infected with spyware and/or malware. And if it is, go over to Sunbelt and download the 30-day evaluation of CounterSpy.

Note: This is not a paid post, nor have I been asked to blog about Sunbelt, though I have mentioned them in the past in connection with my blog posts about the Julie Amero case. This is a heartfelt, 100% sincere endorsement of a product that just saved me hours of grief on Sticks’ system.

Even though your antivirus claims to have spyware protection, it’s pretty anemic. I just discovered that this week, when a host of spyware/malware infections popped up on Sticks’ computer last weekend. I downloaded Counterspy, installed it, and it found 25 separate malware infections in the first 30 seconds of the scan. It plays nice with my antivirus program (which is a not-so-good statement about Trend Micro’s antispyware features, by the way) — they don’t get in each other’s way — and the system actually runs faster despite it running in the background.

If you’ve got an infection that’s really tough to remove, they’ve got customer service people that will walk you through the steps needed to get the computer locked down. In Sticks’ case, I opted for reformatting and a fresh install of everything (with all of the stupid updates that come with that) because so much material had been downloaded that was clearly adult and out of bounds, which of course also brings lots of badware with it. He’d also installed Limewire, another known carrier of all sorts of malevolent code — it’s only one small itty-bitty step up from Kazaa.

I have never found an antivirus/antispyware program I liked well enough to sit down and write a blog post about until today, but I’m really sold on CounterSpy. With the spotlight shining on spyware/malware in circles ranging from education to the legal field, it’s worth the $20 per year to keep it off your system. I’ve used Spysweeper in the past and uninstalled it because of the overhead — you really don’t notice CounterSpy at all, at least not on my Windows XP system, but to be fair, here’s the most recent PC Mag roundup of antispyware programs so you can see where it falls in the group.

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