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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Virtualization to mitigate virus attacks..... or "Mitigate work for Me"

All my friends know that I work on/with computers on a daily basis. They know I have a very solid background in the area, so when their PC is messed up... I get the call. Somehow, the viruses they get are generally all related to web browsing and clicking on pop-ups and other junk from "unscrupulous" sites. Lately, this has become an even bigger problem with the newer Flash based attacks. Also, many of them continue to use Internet Explorer as their primary browser. (Side note: My wife refused to upgrade from IE6 until she was forced with the Windows 7 upgrade. That was a nightmare. She would constantly state: Why is my machine so messed up???...blah..blah...blah.... I learned from her internet usage that LiveJournal is full of viruses, along with pointless other stuff.....).

Since I know I can't change people's browsing behavior and I don't want to be a jerk and not help them out with a fix, I have come up with my new "Fix" approach.

VirtualBox ( is a free and fairly simple, yet powerful, virtualization package. Since it is relatively easy to use (even for a novice computer user), I have created a image (Fedora 13) with virus protection, Firefox plug-ins, Flash player...etc.. all preconfigured. Now, from this point forward, I can install VirtualBox on my friends/family members' PCs..... provide them the image......and showing them how to revert the image back to the "baseline" snapshot. As long as they use the VM to do all web browsing and such, they shouldn't have any issues. If the VM gets "infected", they can solve the problem themselves with 2 clicks.....

Now, I will say, my wife says this is the most convoluted idea ever. My brother-in-law told me "Launching this VM is too many clicks..." Geez, it takes 3 clicks to launch the VM.... and the isolation it provides is great. I guess from my standpoint it's great...from theirs it's "meh.." as they just have me fix their broken PC, so no sweat of their backs....

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