Recently I had the pleasure of checking out my mother-in-law’s computer after I installed AVG anti-virus and did some cleanup. She called saying that it was telling her that her computer was infected. So we piled in the jeep and went down to see if I could help. As soon as I booted up the machine I knew there was trouble. None of her desktop icons were displaying, a blue shield (mimicking microsoft’s security center icon) was in the taskbar labeled “Personal Security”. Two or three windows eerily hovered on the desktop warning me of 10 or so viruses, trojans and malware were infecting my computer, and telling me i need to purchase Personal Security to fix the problems. I knew i needed some assistance.
So after a not so brief chat with my father (a seasoned tech) I found out that this is a rogue anti spyware program that is in fact spyware, trying to make you buy their software. It pops up false scanning reports telling you are infected when you are not. Not only that but it has been reported that it will log your keystrokes and send your passwords and account information off to a remote server so a hacker can then take advantage of them. It is extremely important that if you have this on your computer, get rid of it.
The problem I also ran into is that it would not let task manager open to end processes, I could not access add/remove programs, and most antivirus will not see this. So the short and sweet is if it will take more than scanning and removing to rid yourself of these threats, you need to reinstall your operating system. Which I hope everybody knows by now that this is not a horrible lengthy process any more, even on my mother-in-laws old IBM it only took about 2 hours and only about a half hour of that was me in front of the computer, the rest was automated.
This is yet another reason to make sure you back up your important data regularly, if you did than there is no fear of losing any of your important documents or family pictures. You should back up onto a portable hard drive and it’s a good idea to take advantage of an always running online backup program like mozy.com who will give you 2gb for free and around $5 a month for more space.
The next thing to remember, after you reinstall, STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER. It is too voulnerable to scripts and has too many holes in it. Instead switch to firefox you will get used to it and will probably prefer ir after you have had some time to customize it to your preferences.
Next you want to download spywareblaster and immunize your computer (which plugs the holes in your browsers and system). Then download spybot search and destroy and immunize your system (this will stop bad scripts and block access to known bad sites). I Spybots preferences turn off resident shield and tea timer so it doesn’t run all the time and slow down the computer. and finally download Microsoft Security Essentials and install it, this will be your resident anti-virus/spyware software. All of this software is free but you need to remember to update them once in a while to keep yourself protected from the most recent threats.
Follow these instructions and play safe and you won’t have anything to worry about. If you have any questions feel free to comment.