Click-to-get-infected ad is a test ... of what?

Who were the 409 who clicked on the experimental Google ad?

We'll get to my brother the axe murderer in a moment.

But first, let's all have a good laugh at the expense of the 409 morons who clicked on this Google ad -- out of a quarter of a million individuals given the opportunity:

Drive-By Download

Is your PC virus-free?

Get it infected here!

After all, only the dimmest of the dimwitted would purposely subject their PC to the promise of a virus. And quantifying the natural occurrence rate of such losers could be seen as the primary result of this experiment conducted by security researcher Didier Stevens.

It isn't the only one, however.

"I designed my ad to make it suspect, but even then it was accepted by Google without problem, and I got no complaints. And many users clicked on it," says Stevens says. "Now, you may think that they were all stupid Windows users, but there is no way to know what motivated them to click on my ad."

Exactly. So what was the ad testing -- security savvy or lack thereof? That's certainly the conclusion of choice.

But what about curiosity? Who could read such an ad and not be curious as to what it's all about? Couldn't it be argued that the 409 who clicked through represent the cream of the crop when it comes to thirst for knowledge?

What about faith in almighty Google? Certainly if Google accepted the ad, these 409 curious souls may have reasoned, there cannot be any earthly reason to eschew clicking through. (That Google accepted the ad, which ran for months, may be the most interesting result of the experiment ... certainly the one most worthy of followup.)

Or does the experiment test the courage of one's convictions? Let's face it, the vast majority of us seeing that ad would presume it to be a joke or a way-out-there advertising gimmick, as opposed to what it claims to be. But how many would display the same resolve to have our instincts proven correct as did our brave 409? And need I remind you that they were indeed proven right?

Who's laughing now, my friends? Shame on that quarter of a million men and women who saw the ad but possessed neither the curiosity, faith nor courage to act on the most natural of 21st Century human impulses: the urge to click.

And if you've read this far it can only be for one reason: my brother the axe murderer.

Brian McNamara is his name, and a programmer, not an axe murderer, but he does tell a doozy of a story about having hitchhiked cross-country in his wild-and-crazy younger days, armed not merely with a pair of thumbs and a smile but also a cardboard sign that read: "Axe Murderer" ... highly effective, too, he says.

My brother and all the people who gave him rides back then were but trailblazers for the fearless 409 who stared down Didier Stevens' experimental Google ad and clicked without blinking.

Morons? Oh, no, I call them heroes.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul McNamara

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?