Windows: So Easy Even a Child Can Do It

Posted By on June 22, 2010

I found this online security story from one of the tech blogs I read interesting. This is from Paul Thurrott who co-wrote the book Windows 7 Secrets who shared a bit about his kids online spending spree.

This is amusing to me because my kids are 8 and 12 years old. You may have heard about the ZD blogger who, in late April, announced he was compromised via Facebook and forever banishing Windows to a virtual machine; he would run Linux as his primary OS going forward because Windows, he said, was no longer safe “due to the constant threat of malware.”

[ Read more about this blogger and his bad advice in the May 2, 2010 mailbag ]

I’m not saying that Windows isn’t under constant attack. Of course it is, as it’s the primary computing platform on the planet with over 93 percent usage share. But if my kids can use the Internet, every day, successfully and safely, I’m curious to know why this guy can’t. And while I’ve often said that basic security controls plus an iota of common sense should be enough for most people, my kids have no common sense at all. And their PCs, again, are completely clean, and have been for the past year.

I was pretty proud of my kids on Friday. Unfortunately, they are kids. So it only took another 48 hours for me to realize that my pride was misplaced. Checking my email on Sunday–like many of you, my schedule has no understanding of weekends or pseudo-holidays like Father’s Day–I was surprised to see a number of emails from Apple’s iTunes Store. Uh-oh.

The first one was a receipt for a bill totaling $159.36. Then one for $180.57. $159.36, twice more. $172.08. And $53.11. All told, over $880 had been charged to my debit card, the money directly removed from our checking account.

Looking over the charges, I discovered that they were all due to in-app purchases from some iPhone/iPod touch game I had never heard of. My kids, upstairs tapping away on an iPod touch, had somehow managed to rack up these charges “buying” in-game trinkets that they assumed were free, using pretend money. (The game itself was free.)

Long story short, Apple, amazingly, reversed all of the charges after a frantic phone call. (In fact, they were notably gracious about this.) My kids were given the Fear Of God ™ speech. And the iPod was locked down using some built-in Restrictions controls I had never really paid much attention to before. Yes, the barn door was finally closed.

Posted via web from richc’s posterous


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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