Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Are computers crashing everywhere because of something from Russia?


My computer crashed last week. My computer tech said it was happening
everywhere. I heard nothing on it. He got a letter from the government saying
it was believed to be from Russia. How come I haven’t heard anything on the
news? He fixed my computer and said it was as safe as he could make it. He
suggested I change my username. I tried, but Yahoo kept kicking me out. What
should I do? I’m running the latest Windows XP.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #10
, I try to sort out the facts about a rumor of malware from
Russia. Is this a spoof or a mistake?

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Malware from overseas

I’m a little confused; or perhaps what I should say is that it sounds to me
like your computer tech is a little confused.

Malware has been around for a long time. Malware coming from Russia is
nothing new and certainly nothing newsworthy. It’s happening all the time;
people do get infected, unfortunately.

It’s what keeps questions flowing to sites like Ask Leo! and it’s what keeps
data recovery services in business.

Letter from the government

“He got a letter from the government” really makes me wonder. I don’t know of
any government sending out any letters having to deal with this.

I’d be really interested in seeing that letter. My guess is that either he
got taken by someone who spoofed it or he’s mistaking some other kind of letter
for a letter from the government; potentially even a sales letter for some form
of anti-malware tool.

So, the short answer is that you haven’t heard anything on the news
because it’s not newsworthy. It’s not news. It’s commonplace. It does

Practice good internet safety

You do need to practice good internet safety. I would point you immediately
at the article “Internet
Safety: how do I keep my computer safe on the internet?
” as the
best starting place to make sure you’ve got everything covered to keep your
machine safe.

Change Yahoo username?

I don’t understand the changing username scenario either.

  • If he’s talking about your username on your computer, I don’t see how that
    solves anything.
  • If he’s talking about your username online (you mentioned your Yahoo
    account), it’s not something that can be changed.

If you want to change a username on Yahoo, the only way to do that is to create
a brand new Yahoo account with a new username and stop using your old one.

So, I’m fairly confused as to exactly what it was you were advised and why
you were advised that; but I would point at my
internet safety
article as a great starting point to put into place the
tools, the techniques, and the education to prevent this kind of thing from
happening again in the future.

Next – How do I safely get security software onto my newly reinstalled machine?

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

2 comments on “Are computers crashing everywhere because of something from Russia?”

  1. I fully agree with Leo, no government is going to send computer techs such letters! Period! I very strongly feel that your tech is either grossly confused or just a really poor con artist.
    Sure, there are virus’ that CAN crash a computer, and some of these DO come from Russia. But 99.99% of the time they don’t ‘crash’ your computer as that would do nothing for the sender of the virus.
    Contrary to what many believe, most virus’ aren’t designed to maliciously damage a computer. That is merely a ‘side effect’ of their real intention – to steal information or become an have you become an unwilling participant in attacking other computers.
    Their intention generally is to wipe out your browser and security software so that they have free reign. I get many customers that tell me they can’t get on the internet. In reality, they ARE on the internet but they can’t use their browser because it is so damaged. This stops you from downloading the proper anti-malware to get rid of the virus. The virus, however, IS on the internet sending all your personal info to wherever it was designed to.
    Crashing your computer would stop a virus from doing it’s real job.

  2. My Ongoing Woes Seem To Revolve Around >ati2dvag-display driver or video card version>8.221-06012421-030152c-ATI~~Blue Screens Black Screens +Start Up Troubles (Quite An Array) Software I Purchased Were HIGH On Promises But LOW On Performance ~~ Can Anyone Out In Cyber-Space SOLVE This One For Me Please ?~~Regards DDDes.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.