Malware can trash your data--and reputation

Tom's class grade suffers when porn-borne Trojans torch his PC, proving once again that malware can singe a person's reputation as easily as his data.

Malware can torch your computer.

Pornographic pop-ups have plagued users since the early days of adware. While the serving methods may have changed since then, the damage these Trojans can do to a person's standing when porn shows up in the wrong place has not.

Users in past Spyware Horror Stories have been branded as smut lovers by family, classmates, and co-workers. In some cases, their jobs or grades were questioned.

In Tom's story, a misclicked link results in an academic toll that far outlasts the threat posed to his data. Find out how Tom saved his files even as his scholastic status suffered, and pick up tips for defending yourself against the stigma of porn-spewing adware in this week's Spyware Horror Story, Character Assassin.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.