Friday, March 5, 2010

Super Sneaky Virus

These guys might look cute but after you've dealt with a computer virus you're more likely to think of them in terms of the bad monster Liam Neeson calls up in Clash of the Titans with the gazillion teeth. And you might compare the others to those very rhythmic Scorpion creatures.

Unlike some computer users I’m uber freaky when it comes to virus scans. Like a smoke detector in your home, you must NOT be without one. And just like you keep fresh batteries in your smoke detector, you absolutely, positively, without fail, come HELL or highwater – keep the virus programs updated.

LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN because if you own a Windows PC, this is the most important item to have - a virus scan with THE LATEST VIRUS DEFINITIONS downloaded and installed before you allow someone in your household to get on the internet.

But that’s not all. If you want to stay virus free on your pc or laptop, you need more than just a virus scan. You need a spyware catcher, malware destroyer, and vigilance.

Believe me, my respect and fear of the latest big bad virus was renewed yesterday while working on my handouts for my upcoming classes.

I Googled the ‘windows 7 logon screen’ (something I do often for blogs and such) and received a page of images. I right clicked the one I wanted and hit save as. Immediately, a window popped up stating that Personal scanner for the Control Center had found several viruses and the numbers were running up fast. Then a dialog box comes up asking you to download the fix for this virus, like you have no choice.

This all looks very legit so it's important not to panic. Hundreds of thousands of computer users have fallen for this scheme. They have entered credit card information to pay for this extra protection and the money went straight to the Ukraine or Czech republic or wherever these guys are.

This virus is known by a new name everyday. It started with Windows XP calling itself XP Antivirus 2009, or Eco antivirus, Control Center, Security Center (not to be confused but it surely is with Windows Security Center) then Windows 7 Antivirus 2010. One clue is the address. You will see http:// Ip address and more. Instead of for example - or whatever you’ll see something like http://91.198.5.etc.

There are some steps you can take to minimize your risk. Prevention can often prevent a very expensive computer repair.
1. Use a reputable virus scan – AVG, Norton, McAfee, PC-cillin, etc. and set the program to update automatically when your computer goes online.
2. Use a malware program to find destructive programs like this that infiltrate your computer, sometimes called Trojans
3. Download a spyware program like SpyBot, Ad aware or Superantivirus that finds adware, spyware, worms, parasites and root attackers.
4. Run them one at a time, once a week - minimum.
5. Know the programs you have installed for these purposes so you can do the next step.

I mentioned vigilance. When you see something happening on the screen STOP! Read what’s on the screen. If you don’t recognize the program and if there’s anything about infected files, close the program or windows using the red X in the upper right corner. Do not click OK on anything. Close your browser and immediately run the Malware program, then the antivirus and spyware deleting the suggested files. Let the computer do it’s thing until these programs come up clean.

IF YOU CAN"T CLOSE THE WINDOWS PRETTY QUICKLY TURN THE COMPUTER OFF BY HOLDING DOWN THE POWER BUTTON FOR FIVE SECONDS THEN TAKE IT TO YOUR COMPUTER PROFESSIONAL. This virus has been known to take over with no option but to completely format and reload the programs and OS.

Remember, you don’t send money online when prompted to anyone claiming to be your virus manufacturer, the Social Security Administration or the IRS.

A protected computer is a happy computer.


Thea said...

that monster is the 'cracken'

Bill Kirton said...

Scary stuff Marley but you're so right. We need to keep on being reminded to check these things.