Mommy! I got a toolbar! The virus is next!

One of my friends is obsessed with Freeware. Nothing wrong with that! He browses around the net a lot! Nothing wrong there either! Put both together and there might be a lot of wrong about it. He got his internet upgraded to high speed and started freaking out on torrents online. Any site with torrents and he was registered! Then he saw that apart from the regular .mp4 and .avi files there are .mkv torrents and you need converters for those files to play smoothly. And there began a tale of misery, suffering, horror and a lot of pain!

He started looking around for video file converters, found them, selected a seemingly good converter, downloaded the installer and completed installing the tool. He then started converting all the juicy mkv torrents to his favorite format and was at it for a week. Then something happened. He sent an important email to his wife and it never  reached her! He thought he had sent it to the wrong id and resent it. That did not get delivered either. Now he was worried!

He opened his browser and started to search for the cause of his problem online. The search results surprised him! Very rudely! The search was done by a search engine that he had never heard of! And it was now his default search provider. Not just that, he had been too pre-occupied to look at the browser, he looked at it and was in for another shock!

The browser had like seven different toolbars added to it and he had no memory of adding any of them! He was in a state of shock! He then started painstakingly removing the toolbars one by one and after a week it was done! He then went to his ISP to find why his emails were not delivered, and there he got his next rude shock!

He was using Google Apps on his domain and the domain dashboard was a pinned tab on his browser, with cookies on for remembering him. Well one of  the toolbars was a keystroke tracker and got a hold of his domain id! Then a new id was created on his email server and set as the “catch all” on his domain. This id was used to send seedy mails all over the world and as it was the “catch all” even the errors and bounces were not seen by him.

In just a week, his domain was blacklisted by a lot of email servers and he was unable to email anyone from his domain. It took a week to clean the domain and a further month to get whitelisted on major spam trackers. Even Google had listed his domain as a suspect website.

All this for a video file conversion? And in exchange for a browser toolbar? Think again!

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