Friday, 13 February 2015

Apologising to Companies

I think most of us will agree that social media is a great addition to our lives. Thousands of people moan about television programs in unison, discuss a common love, or try to make their mundane life sound a lot more exciting. For companies, it's a brilliant tool, as it allows them to connect with their customers individually, and making themselves seem a lot more human than they otherwise did.

However, for companies, it is also something which allows their customers to rant at them directly, about a personal gripe they have. I've done this many-a-time. I've moaned to BT about their customer service, and how long they made me wait to be connected up to their service. I've got employees of a local The Range store in trouble, for closing early without reason. Over Christmas, I told UberSocial that I had grown weary of their in-app advertising, and was therefore uninstalling them. Yesterday, I told my bank that their website was spam-ridden.

What was I to think? I had spent the morning perusing social media without issue. Then, as soon as I went onto their website, I was swamped by spam advertisement, which meant whatever I clicked on, I was taken to unwanted websites. I refreshed, and the website had been blocked. So, I took to social media, and told them my thoughts.

While I waited for a reply, I did some investigation. Google started coming up with unusual results. I then tried Halifax and Nationwide websites, and they too seemed to be infected. Then I went onto this blog. This too was 'infected'. So, the same hackers who had targeted the big banking websites, were also infiltrating my little blog, in the corner of the internet. That seemed slightly implausible, and the likelihood was that the issue was actually me end. Then Lloyds Bank Tweeted me back, trying to resolve my issue. I had to grovel.

Never before have I apologised to a company, and it never actually occurred to me that I ever would. It's a strange result of this immediate and social world we live in. Thanks to social media, we can call a company up on its mistakes. But we can be wrong too, and thus, incidents like this happen. Thankfully, they were good about the charade, and I went quiet.
It turned out that malware had sneaked its way onto my computer, and had proceeded to spread itself about. It's called Positive Finds, and when I downloaded something a few days earlier, it was obviously sellotaped onto it. However, it wasn't just as simple as uninstalling the program, and it was corrupting the system restore. A quick Google, on an uninfected device, told me that it was stubborn, and I needed to install something to remove it. So, I took to my laptop again, typed in the link, and pressed download.

The clever malware had over-ridden my choice, and proceeded to download something else. Thankfully, I noticed in time. So, after some considerable effort trying find a work-around, I finally did it. Internet Explorer was safe. Google Chrome though, was still infected, and the malware was hidden somewhere amongst the program files. An uninstall and reinstall later, and now I'm finally free.

After a little bit of research, it's an interesting piece of malware. Its purpose isn't to steal your money, or to destroy your personal files. It is purely to make itself money. Every time one of the advertisements is clicked, it is paid money by the recipient of the extra visitor. For example, BET123 are paying them money, to get their website more views. But, of course, they are also paid money to send people to a link, which automatically downloads a virus. I was attacked by four Trojans.

Social media is a beautiful baby of the Internet. The Internet has resulted in a lot of good since its' own conception. However, the Internet is getting a more dangerous place to reside, as we are all aware. Only a few weeks ago, I was on a council website, and when I downloaded a seemingly safe file, I again had a Trojan hurtling towards me. It's worrying, and incredibly scary. Both my parents and girlfriend have been victims of ransom viruses, which try to blackmail you into giving money. This only going to get worse.

So, what are my final thoughts? Be careful what you download, and think everything through before you start to mouth-off at worldwide, corporate company.

Don’t have nightmares.

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