Viruses can infect your PC with child porn.

As if you really needed yet another reason to make sure your computer is patched and you have a decent anti-virus solution installed, now comes word that an infected PC could lead to you being charged for having child pornography:

An Associated Press investigation found cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus. It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence.

Their situations are complicated by the fact that actual pedophiles often blame viruses — a defense rightfully viewed with skepticism by law enforcement.

“It’s an example of the old `dog ate my homework’ excuse,” says Phil Malone, director of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “The problem is, sometimes the dog does eat your homework.”

via AP IMPACT: Framed for child porn — by a PC virus by AP: Yahoo! Tech.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise considering that many trojans and viruses are designed to allow full access to your PC for any of a number of nefarious purposes be it the sending of spam email to launching DDoS attacks. It was only a matter of time before someone thought to use them as a handy repository for their child porn.

It is possible to successfully defend yourself in cases where you’re a victim of a computer virus, but it’s not cheap and it still destroys your reputation:

Fiola and his wife fought the case, spending $250,000 on legal fees. They liquidated their savings, took a second mortgage and sold their car.

An inspection for his defense revealed the laptop was severely infected. It was programmed to visit as many as 40 child porn sites per minute — an inhuman feat. While Fiola and his wife were out to dinner one night, someone logged on to the computer and porn flowed in for an hour and a half.

Prosecutors performed another test and confirmed the defense findings. The charge was dropped — 11 months after it was filed.

The Fiolas say they have health problems from the stress of the case. They say they’ve talked to dozens of lawyers but can’t get one to sue the state, because of a cap on the amount they can recover.

“It ruined my life, my wife’s life and my family’s life,” he says.

The folks at F-Secure Corp. estimate that at any given time 20 million of the 1 billion Internet-connected PCs are infected with viruses that could give the bad guys full control. That estimate sounds a little conservative to me, I suspect it’s much higher than that. So make sure your systems are patched and secure. An ounce of prevention could save you a lot of trouble later.

Seven facts on why you should have anti-virus running on your Mac.

The security through obscurity that Mac users have enjoyed for years is finally starting to crumble and even Apple is owning up to it. They recently put out a support advisory last month in which they recommended that Mac user start running anti-virus software on their machines. It’s long been a gloating point for Mac users that anti-virus software was unnecessary on their systems, but as Apple’s market share increases it’s getting a point where there’s a profit motive for malware authors to start writing for the Mac platform and some of them already are.

Still there’s a resistance to the idea that the Mac may be vulnerable to the same sorts of malicious software that Windows users are and that prompted Graham Cluley to ask in a blog entry Do you really need anti-virus on your Apple Mac?

It started with just a small pebble being dropped into a pond. Apple updated one of its support advisories on 21 November, informing its customers that they are recommended to run anti-virus software.

Most people would never have noticed this announcement. I didn’t at first. I only heard about it when I saw the guys from Intego mention it on their Apple security blog on 25 November. A couple of days later, recovering from a bout of man-flu, I blogged about a new piece of Apple malware and mentioned in passing that Apple were now recommending their customers run anti-virus software.

Today, however, that small pebble dropped by Apple has turned into a tidalwave of commentary – and we’re seeing lots of news stories about Apple urging Mac users to protect themselves with anti-virus.

So, do you really need anti-virus on your Apple Mac?

From there he goes on to list seven facts and the comes to the following conclusion:

So, back to my original question, do you really need anti-virus on your Apple Mac?

The answer is yes.

It’s worth noting that Mr. Cluley works for Sophos, a company that produces anti-virus, anti-spam, firewall software packages for both big and small businesses, so it’s possible he may have a conflict of interest in promoting anti-virus software on the Mac. The fact that Apple has recommended the practice and that Mr. Cluley has been active in anti-virus research for some time prior to joining Sophos should help balance that out. That and the seven facts he lists make a pretty good argument.

The threat for Apple users is still relatively small compared to what Windows users face, but if Apple continues to gain market share then it won’t take long for it to grow. Of course the best defense is being educated about the threats, but for a lot of people that’s a commitment they don’t seem to be able to make.