This issue is going to take a little detour from the physical items of a computer. Lately, I’ve become more aware of people falling for programs that promise to fix their computers by doing anti-virus scans, anti-malware scans and cleaning the Registry. We know what a virus is, many of us come down with a cold or the flu every year. Your computer can also catch a virus in the same way, by visiting sites that or less than above board in their intentions or being badly written in that they have been compromised in someway.
I’ve have seen these fake anti-virus programs getting more and more complex, looking just like real anti-virus programs. These fakes show that are doing scans (it is just an animation) of infected files (those file names are picked from a file that is part of the fake program) that stay the same during each scan. The one seen mostly now is called Antivirus 2008 XP, or Vista AntiVirus 2008.
This link is a bit heavy on the tech side of things, but I think if you have a chance to give it a look, you’ll be better armed to deal with these in the future.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all, I sure don’t. But I understand enough to know that this is an evil way to try and get money from people. There are tons of free programs to the job with no strings attached. I strongly recommend the use of the following:
AVG Free anti-virus
SUPER Anti-Spyware (click on the FREE edition)
The above have automatic updates, and you can have them send back reports on the sites they find that might need to be added to the search databases.
I also recommend the use of Spyware Guard and Spyware Blaster, both available from:
If you run Windows Firewall and have Windows XP Service Pack 2, you are pretty well covered. And even more so if you have a router connected to your DSL or cable connection. Even if you only have one computer, you should have a router. If you have Norton or McAfee, you can uninstall them from the Add/Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel for XP. For Vista, you can open the Control Panel and click on “Uninstall a Program” from the first column towards the bottom. Norton and McAfee aren’t as good as they used to be, and
Please be careful when installing unknown programs. If you have any questions about any software, please do not hesitate to email me and I will be happy to check it and see whether it’s good or bad and suggest alternatives accordingly.
You can also try following some of the recommendations made by Kat Armstrong. She’s a Microsoft MVP and knows her security. You can check out her blog at the following:
I still recommend AVG because it does do a few other things, like check out links ahead of time, even over Avast and Anti-Vir (which I haven’t used). I did try Avast, and found that the voice announcement of updates was obtrusive and the program was harder to get around in than AVG. And I certainly wouldn’t use it if AVG were not doing the job.
You can also use an on-line scanner to double-check any anti-virus you have installed on your computer. I find that Trend Micro’s HouseCall does a good job, though it does take a long time to run. It’s very thorough in the scan it does. It does install a small program to your computer for updates to the scan program.
One quick note on a related subject: I do not recommend any Registry cleaners unless used by someone that knows what they are looking at. Too many companies use strange names for programs that -look- like a virus or malware, but are not.
I could go on, but I like this being easy to read at one page. And I don’t want to cause information overload. As always, if you have any questions, please ask. Someone else is probably looking for that answer too and we can all learn something new about our computers.
There’s many ways we can protect our computers and our data from outside agencies trying to do harm. Most things are common sense: Don’t click on unknown links; don’t install unfamiliar software; keep your security programs and settings up to date.