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Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 05/18/2009 12:17 AM Updated by: Kim_Hamilton on 05/18/2009 12:21 AM
Expires: 01/01/2014 12:00 AM
:

Avoiding Virus and Spyware Infection~by Kris Jack of Computer Firemen

Last week we talked about backups... If you did not get a chance to read it here is a link. We discussed a couple of programs and the advantage of an automatic backup. If you do not have a backup system in place and would like help, please give us a call. This week: Avoiding Virus and Spyware Infection....



Some common causes of data corruption and annoyance are virus and spyware infections. Generally, the majority of computer users are oblivious to the common devices used to damage or infiltrate their computer data and are therefore vulnerable when they use the internet. The internet is a breeding ground for destructive programs and viruses which can cause harm to your system or give unlimited access to your valuable information. Some of the most common places to become infected are adult websites and file sharing services for movies, music or programs such as limewire, bearshare, morpheus, kazaa etc. Misspelled domain names and warez (pirated software) sites are also responsible for a large percentage of infections. Be sure to talk to your children or grandchildren (especially teens) about this so that they don't accidentally infect your computer.

One of the best forms of protection is being able to recognize a risk. Frequently, a hacker will use a “fake out” strategy. To the uninformed it simply looks like a message from Windows or your anti-virus system that says you are already infected and prompts you to click a button to fix it. In reality, this may be an attempt to infect your computer by a program that pretends to be an anti-virus or anti-spyware program. If you did not intentionally install the application that is warning you, it is most likely serving as a double agent against you rather than for you. As a rule, do not install unless you know it is from a reputable vender. Whenever in doubt of a new security suite, look it up on www.google.com to ensure it is legit or call us.

Another scheme to hack into your computer is what we call “the rat.” In this case, a popup claims that your computer has traces to adult websites which your spouse and/or family will see. This program offers to cover your tracks, but will instead infect you. An additional ploy is “the detour” which is an advertisement that shows up on the download page of many legitimate sites that looks like the link to download the program you were looking for. Beware, however, because it is just a cleverly disguised program that will contaminate despite how genuine it looks.

Now that you know how you can become fouled by the schemes of the hacker, let us examine how to identify the side effects to help you recognize if you have fallen victim. There are visible identifiers and invisible ones. If you suddenly begin receiving all sorts of popup ads, especially for adult websites and security software, you’ve been infected by Adware. Other signs are a dramatic slowing of your computer speed and warnings from your real anti-virus and anti-spyware software. These are obviously easier to identify due to their visibility and annoyance, however, the invisible traces are more behind the scenes and can cause more damage.

Hidden in the recesses of your computer could be programs that are spying on you to customize ads specifically for your preferences, steal your identity or personal information and even blackmail you. Programs could be sending spam from your computer to your address book and to everyone else in your name or possibly infecting other computers around you as hackers often use infected computers to get to other computers in the home or office. It isn’t pretty and often leads to greater problems in the long run. It is highly recommended that you protect yourself as much as possible to limit the possibility that you’d be one of the multitudes that has to endear one of these problems.

What To Do

Regularly update your anti-virus and/or anti-spyware program. Updates are essential to protecting against the newest ploys used by hackers and are programmed into the system after a problem is already identified. This is the whole purpose for having anti-virus and/or anti-spyware programs on your computer. Hacker’s knowledge of how to corrupt other people’s computers evolves just as quickly as technology itself and the only way to keep your information private is through keeping the programs protecting you as up to date as possible.

If you do not have an anti-virus, head over to http://www.free.grisoft.com and get AVG Free. AVG Free is an anti-virus program for personal use on up to 1 computer per household that does a great job. For businesses, we recommend Trend Micro or F-prot depending on how many computers you have.

If your computer is already infected there are a few options. You can download a program to clean it (which is not always possible by a program itself) like Anti-malware www.malwarebytes.com or Spybot Search and Destroy http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html . If you can't get it cleaned up using these tricks, or you don't want to take this daunting task on by yourself, rescue is just a phone call away. We can be reached at 877-TECH-209 (877-823-4209) ext 1 or check out our website at www.computerfiremen.com. Please let us know if you found this article to be useful.


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