What do you do with a drunken laptop?

We all know that accidents happen. But now, you’ve spilled a drink on your laptop, and you’re at a loss as to what to do. Well, first, don’t panic. Things may not be as bad as they seem.

It’s likely the laptop was very surprised by the sudden introduction of a liquid and has turned itself off. Leave it off for now; trying to wake it up now could cause more damage. It’s a fact that laptops hate being wet worse than cats. Remove the power cord and if at all possible, remove the battery as well. Stand the laptop up on the edge opposite where it plugs in to power. We want the liquid that has gotten in the case to all flow one way, and the edge opposite the power connector usually has large vents. If there are panels on the underside of the laptop, open them to increase air flow. Don’t touch any of the components inside the panels; we don’t want to take a chance of damaging any important parts.

Well, that’s it. That’s all you need to do besides wait. Give the laptop at least a couple of days to dry thoroughly. Then close up the underside panels, replace the battery and plug in the power. It will either turn on, in which case you’ll feel quite clever, or it won’t, in which case it’s a lucky thing you had all your data backed up.

What are you looking at?

I’ve had a few customers’ PCs experience infections recently, and I thought this would be a good time to discuss one of the vectors for such an attack. It is called Search Poisoning, and its discussed in this article from a couple of years ago.

The author brings up a few good points, and I think they can be boiled down to one golden rule: Know Upon What Thou art Clicking.

I like to advise my clients to take an extra second and use the tools we have available to us. Principle among these is to mouse over the link and look at the target URL; if it goes somewhere that sounds unusual or foreign, or isn’t what the link text would lead one to expect, then don’t click that.

So, for instance, if you were interested in finding the most effective anti virus products, you might type in a search for ‘best anti virus’. (As an aside, I just did enter that search, and didn’t get any poisoned results on the first page, so it isn’t a good contrived example. Lets pretend it is.)

If there was a result such as ‘bestantivirus.com’ or event better, .ru, .cn, or .pl, I would strongly recommend giving it a pass. Sites that go to foreign addresses, and sites that have a narrowly-scoped address are often invitations to infection. It is good practice to assume that there is no reason for a site to have a very narrowly defined address except as a lure to the unwary.

So when surfing around online, it pays to take the extra sec and ask yourself, just what are you looking at?