Monday, January 19, 2009

Virus, Malware and protecting yourself

The last few months I have been very busy removing malware. In particular things with names like "Antivirus 2008" have been particularly difficult to remove. It knows the names of Antivirus and Spy protection software and the simple trick is to rename the executable file so it does not recognize it. But these little demons really put their hooks into the system. Much cheaper to backup and do a fresh install.

So what is Malware? It is Malicious Software. Mal from malicious and ware from software. It can be a virus or a trojan or any type of attack.

Protecting Yourself

  1. Get something other than Internet Explorer. The month of November and December saw a scramble by Microsoft to fix vunerabilities in Interenet Explorer. You really cannot go wrong with FireFox 3. It is open and so security vunerabilites get fixed much more rapidly. I also am a fan of Opera 9 and Google Chrome. They are all free.
  2. Get Antivirus software and keep it up to date. It is in everyones interest to keep clean computers so please keep up on this. There are Free versions of AVG, Avast and Anti-vir. They all work and they can all be targeted by people who write malicious code. So safe computing is a must. If you get mail from someone you do not know do not open it. If a window pops open and says that you are infected "shut off your computer". Unplug it from the wall and the internet. Wait 20 to 30 seconds before plugging it back in. Now this is important. If a program you do not know tells you that your computer is infected it is generally a lie and it is the infection. It also wants you to spend money to buy it. This is a scam. It is cheaper at this point to hire someone to check your computer.
  3. Get rid of windows and have linux installed. Linux can do anything you want and it is free. You may have to hire someone to setup your printer or your wirless card, but the chance of ever getting a windows virus is very remote. Also Linux is Free. Linux is open source so security issues are generally found and fixed very quickly.
  4. Not ready for linux... perhaps there is a Mac in your future. Mac's rarely get a virus. However they can get one and you should use a Anti-virus. Mac's are easy to use and for many people a better experience than Windows.
Last but not least practice safe computing. If your computer goes somewhere you do not know, close that browser now. You can restart it and see that your homepage is still in place.
If you get a email from someone with a attachment make sure you know them. Your software should scan emails.
After you download a file, right click on it and scan it with your antivirus or spyware.

Please go to my website and check out software that may help you keep your computer clean.
Also any of you computer geeks reading this... It is faster to take the hd out of the pc and scan for virus's on your faster computer that is locked down tight against intrusion.

As a aside support open software when and where you can. This could eventually slow the spread of malware and security issues.