Tuesday, May 6, 2014

About Russian sites reported as malware and how to stay safe (and free!)

Dear friends,

Just a short note about the issue of (the very good) Взгляд.ру (URL: http://www.vz.ru) getting flagged as "malware attack site" or something similar, it could be due to a) something wrong with the site b) something wrong with an advertisement on the site c) political censorship.  The point is this: this is a great opportunity for you all to drop Windows and/or Mac and switch to Linux (properly called "GNU/Linux").  For a list of options I recommend please see the "GNU/Linux distributions I recommend" box on the lower right of this page.  Then, use a browser which has an "AdBlock" extension.  FireFox and Chrome are the two I mostly use.  FireFox also has extensions like "FlashBlock" and the "NoScripts Security Suite" which provide an additional level of security.  The latter require a tad more IT knowledge to use.  

The bottom line is this: if you are using Windows - you are constantly exposing yourself to a huge amount of very different risks; if you are using Mac, you are much better off, but you are grossly overpaying for your software and you are not safe from malware approved by Mac.  The only solution is to use free software which, for most people, means Linux (though *BSD is an excellent solution for the tech-savvy).

Here are a few links for those of you interested in trying out the "free world":
One more thing: contrary to what many ignorant people think, Linux is not hard to learn at all.  In fact, it is much easier than Windows.  However, for a person who learned all the wrong habits on Windows it is not easy to re-learn the logical way to do things, which is how Linux works.  Not only will you computer run according to a different logic, but your way of solving problems also will have to change.  For example, instead of paying a fortune to speak with a person with a thick accent for one hour and not get your problem solved, you will learn how to get help for free and in minutes from something called an "IRC" or, at least, a forum.  You will also have to find out how to beat the many petty schemes corporations are constantly cooking up to try to force you to use their bloatware.  The good news is that if Windows and Mac are corporation-centric worlds, the world of Linux is community-centered, just like this blog, and there are literally thousands of folks our there willing to offer a helping hand for no other remuneration than a heartfelt "thank you" from you.

Mind you - today I still got the stupid warning about vz.ru while using FireFox on a Linux computer, that will not disappear as it is OS-independent, but I could simply ignore that warning and waltz away happily to that "dangerous" site.

Which brings me to one small word of caution.  There is what I call "corporate Linux" out there.  Names like Ubuntu, RedHat and others.  My advice - stay away from them and their products.  However, products derived from them like Mint or Xubuntu are okay to use as long as they are piloted by a community, not a corporation.  I would also recommend you stick to so-called APT-based distribution or "Debian derivatives", which is the case of all of the distros listed in the "GNU/Linux distributions I recommend" box.

That's it.  Sorry for this techie-sidebar, but I wanted to remind you all that you don't have to put up with all this 'malware' nonsense and that you can enjoy both freedom and security on your computers.

Now back to the important business at hand.


The Saker 

PS: I will not have the time to reply to any comments to this post (nevermind private emails!).   I have to keep my priorities straight. Right now the priority #1 is the situation in the Ukraine, not IT discussions. Sorry.