What do you call an ereader virus?

Hopefully you’ve been having too much fun at Christmas parties to notice that uBookish has been a bit quiet of late – but not so much fun that you won’t notice our flurry of activity in coming days.

The lack of posts is not through choice – I have a long list of ideas at the ready (Part III of my November newsfest on Titlepage and the Book Industry Strategy Group report, my review of the Sony Reader, an update on the Australian Publishers Association’s Business of Digital Rights Seminar and a look at ebook distribution to name a few).

As well as the usual lack of time, I’ve been held back by a series of trojan attacks on my PC (read on for some advice to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to you, and for a very silly joke about malware and ebooks – which we hope are two words set to rarely appear in the same sentence in future).

About three weeks ago, our Norton software started warning that its expiry date was near. I tried to click through to pay another year’s annual fee, but had no luck. After hitting submit, the dialogue box would just hang, looking as though it might at any time congratulate me on renewing my subscription, but in fact never doing anything much at all. I tried several times, but eventually in frustration put the task to one side for a quieter day.

There were more urgent matters to consider (I thought), like marking student papers, writing a news story for Bookseller + Publisher and compiling some research for the Copyright Agency Limited’s upcoming guide to digital publishing.

It was in the process of the latter task that I first noticed a problem. Google searches result lists would look safe enough, but clicking on the links would lead me to all sorts of utterly irrelevant pages.

I tried rebooting and that seemed to fix it. Then, a few hours later, the problem would return. A couple of times, the PC crashed, but it came back to life. One morning, I spent three hours trying to fix the problem by again trying to restore our Norton subscription (still no luck) and then installing and running Microsoft’s Security Essentials.

Lifehacker recommends the Microsoft product ahead of all others, and it did find and remove about a dozen trojans, malware files and viruses.

I’d hoped this would solve everything, but there was one file that Security Essentials singled out but did not remove as it didn’t recognize it. Perhaps it was this one that was the killer, because that evening while I slept, my husband was working on our Samsung laptop when it crashed completely.

We can’t even get Windows to start up (believe me, I have tried, wasting another three hours the other day).

So now I’m wondering about the family photo collection.

My poor students are still waiting for their marked feature stories.

I’m trying to get into work early enough to do my blog posting before colleagues arrive and expect me to be at work on our magazine, but failing because it’s Christmas and my family needs me more than ever outside of childcare hours.

Our fingers are crossed that a friend who has some Linux expertise will be able to access our files and revive the PC for us when he has some time later this week.

It’s all helped in my decision about whether to buy a Mac or PC next (though Lifehacker warns that while less so, Macs are vulnerable to attack too).

Please beware of malware this Christmas, and make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. At the very least, take Lifehacker’s advice and make sure you browse safely.

With spammers and hackers constantly hassling me via email, automated blog posts and PC threats, I have had a grim thought. For how long will my iPad, iPhone and Sony Reader be safe from their devious and costly (in terms of time and money) plots?

Which brings me to the joke (discovered here).

Q: What do you call an ereader virus?

A: A bookworm.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.