Lavasoft News - March 2007

Letters to the Editor

I think she actually accessed the sites at some point. That is the only way to get an unending stream of pop-ups.


Several years ago (maybe 2000) when I was a computer science instructor at a university I had a similar experience. I typed in an address and was presented with numerous images that I'd rather not describe. The worst part, I could not escape.
Everything I tried simply presented a different porno picture, along with ads for subscribing. Even control-alt-delete would not get me loose, so I pulled the wall plug. Fortunately, I was alone in my office, so I was the only offended person. Nothing like that episode ever happened again. I suspect it was a hijacked address.
Surely hijacking was thinking big. Anyhow, I am obliged to believe the story told by the teacher until I find out whether the "history" on her computer showed her previously accessing porn sites.


I give her the benefit of the doubt - why would she deliberately do this to children (unless she had a 'death' wish)? It is probable that she may have accessed the site earlier, but the charge seems to be not accessing sites, but showing sites to students.


The entire tech community seems to be becoming aware of this incident. From what I have read so far, I think she seems to be a victim of others' prior usage on an unprotected computer. I think of my sister who is (after her retirement age) a part-time teacher and completely computer illiterate and I can see her getting into a similar situation.
Even though I work with computers on a daily basis, I can envision panicking if I were somewhere like a classroom and suddenly saw a lot of porno pop-ups, although, because I do work with computers, I would not have hesitated to shut it down. Because she had been told to not turn off the computer and because she was intimidated by those instructions and the computer, she ended up in this pickle. This case should be reviewed by technically-oriented people. The school district, as I understand it, put some types of protection in place AFTER the incident. Publicly supported entities such as schools should be REQUIRED to have protection. Why would it be so difficult to have someone responsible for installing and maintaining malware, adware and virus protection on the school's computers? Shame on them. And shame again on them for making her the fall guy.


Having had the experience of runaway Internet with explicit content I laugh at the suggestion that you have to click on it to get into trouble. What rubbish! All I had to do was turn Internet explorer on and it went crazy and no - we were not visiting porn sites in the first instance.
Just another example of technical issues being judged by non-technical people. Hope she appeals.


My verdict is that this teacher is an amateur and is innocent. I have surely encountered this problem myself after searching for a name that set me up to a website where I experienced Porn-explosion, and even though I tried to shut every window, it was like a war against Lotus, where you slam one and you see ten more coming your way. I just had to do what they call using the Swede button, thus turning off the UPS. My Antivirus program at that time didn't find any infections ( Norman), but I just knew there was something wrong with it, as I experienced porn popping up right on my desktop even though I was offline. I think it copied itself. So I had no choice but to format the whole thing.
But please give that female teacher a chance. I don't believe she did this on purpose. No way!!


My daughter used to log onto innocent sites, then I would find icons on my desktop that I found were auto-dialers to pay sites.
Same thing came attached to emails.
Since I don't have dialup they never did anything, but they could have.
Long ago I went to log onto the Whitehouse website, and typed by mistake. That was a porn site. Used to encounter push sites that would feed picture after picture onto your computer. The only way to stop them was to shut it off. And I am an experienced computer user. I can well see that a novice could get flustered.
Which, BTW, is why I have Ad-Aware SE Plus.


As someone whose 7-year-old grandsons went surfing on Grandpa's computer and ended up needing to spend 2 hours cleaning up the porn and other stuff [I now have Net Nanny] I believe it has nothing to do with her and all about Lazy computer personnel not updating the school's protection.


Her story is credible if her expert is correct that she entered a site linked to a seemingly innocent hair styling website, "that led to this pornographic loop that was out of control". The defense attorneys should have demonstrated what happened in court before the jury. We all know all too well what can happen when a porno website is visited even if by mistake and we close it and get in the loop of more websites appearing. We learn quickly to recognize these sites, and if necessary to close all the programs using Windows Task Manager. However, if the defense could not replicate this, then the jury may have been correct, but to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the teacher willfully showed porno to her students is a high standard and I am dismayed that the defense team could not introduce into evidence reasonable doubt.


It appears that they're burning witches again. This time in Connecticut.
Too bad the defense did not ask for a trial before a judge. They are much better than juries when sorting scientific arguments.
I hope we're more rational now in California, especially after those trumped up abuse convictions some years ago (preschool abuse allegations) that were finally shown to be witch hunts.


The teacher concerned does seem guilty, but the school does seem guilty of "helping" by allowing their anti-porn defenses to expire.


It is probable that this teacher, or someone who had access to the machine, did visit the sites. If she was responsible for the PC at the time then she is responsible for any actions taken with it during that time. So she might deserve to be sacked for misuse of the school's equipment. But to be subject to even the possibility of 40 years jail is ridiculous.
When I was on a training course (an IT course at that!) one of my colleagues had to change PCs because every time she went into Internet Explorer, pop-up after pop-up just stopped her being able to do any work. There was no malware filtering active on the PC.
So, I believe this teacher has been treated extremely unfairly.


I clicked on a site that I thought was selling merchandise & was re-directed to a porno site...I have had this porno advertising happen to me & I could not stop the pop-ups from happening. I tried closing them but they popped up faster than I could close them! I had to push the shutdown button to close my PC. After re-booting I had to remove the links that they put into my registry along with cookies...
I have been using computers since 1974. I am quite accomplished & knowledgeable with PCs.
I do not think that the jury understood what happened to this poor woman...


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One of the so-called "fathers of the Internet" claims 100-150 million of the 600 million online computers are virus-infected components in botnet networks of PCs under control of hackers. Read who said it and what other predictions he makes in our story, "Battling the Botnet Pandemic."
Term of the Month
Botnet, shortened from roBOT NETwork, is a network of compromised PCs. It is a type of Remote Control Software, specifically a collection of software robots, or 'bots', which run autonomously. Botnets have been used for sending spam remotely, installing more spyware without consent, and for other illicit purposes.

Educate yourself by reading more terms in our Spyware Glossary.
Tech Tips
Having up-to-date firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs is key in keeping your computer safe, but be prepared in the event of a system crash. Back up your files! Along with confidential documents, think of all those personal photos you may have stored on your PC. Don't lose them! Copy them onto a removable disc and store them in a safe place. It may seem like simple advice, but many computer users don't have any back ups at all.
Letters to the Editor
Many of you who wrote to us feel the so-called "spyware" teacher shouldn't be put behind bars and that malware is the real criminal in this case. Stay tuned to this story as sentencing is handed down March 2. In the meantime, read a few of your letters here (some have been shortened due to space limitations).
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