Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Malware and Spyware Oh My

Malware and Spyware

There have been many threats to computers over the years. In the 90’s which was the early years of personal computing and the Internet the biggest threat came the way of viruses. These viruses were normally delivered through programs or games download from sites providing pirated material. Theses viruses would find their way in the computer when one of these programs was executed that had been rewritten with a virus added. As time progressed virus makers targeted business software like Microsoft office that would leave a backdoor in a computer that the hackers could access or it would send them information from your computer. Some viruses were just malicious and tried to delete your files.

It didn’t take long for software companies like Symantec and McAfee to make anti-virus software to combat these viruses as they came out. These companies reacted swiftly and did a really good job with automatic updates that would catch any virus before it could do anything. These companies grew anti-virus software into a billion dollar business. For the most part of the next 12 or so years they were able to pretty much keep any virus at bay.

With increased popularity of the Internet and the growth of one or more computers in just about every household hackers who wrote viruses pretty much gave up trying to attack the old way and the birth of Malware and Spyware arrived. Malware and Spyware are normally installed when you click on a popup that looks normal, but isn’t. It can also be installed through cd-dvd media and thumbdrives. You go to a website and a popup comes up asking you to buy something or informs you that you have a virus or just about anything. When you click ok it installs a program in the background you cannot see and then your problems begin.

The worst ones popup a window at all times saying you have a virus or spyware and that you need to buy their product to clean it. Antivirus 2009 is one currently. If you see this then you have already been infected. Their program usually disables your internet to make you think you really have been hit with something when in fact they are the ones who have taken your computer hostage. You click to buy their program and pay them and your computer miraculous starts working again with their software still on your computer that could strike again or possible keylog everything you do and send the information to them.

These spyware programmers are very smart and make it nearly impossible for a computer specialist to remove them since we cannot get access to the areas we need to for removal. They hide themselves in so many places that when you think you have removed it and you reboot the computer the malware reinstalls itself back on the computer. So you may ask what about the anti-virus software? The anti-virus companies are again once behind the curve and for the most part don’t even detect malware or spyware. At this point I wouldn't even buy their products. I would go with a free version of AVG anti-virus software since they cannot protect you 100%

I have worked on a dozen computers in the last couple of months with the same spyware. It is quicker for me to backup your data and wipe the computer and reinstall the operating system than it is to try to remove the spyware. Even if I thought I got rid of it I still wouldn’t trust it was gone. The programmers of the malware have just gotten too good and it is not worth the risk.

Where does this malware and spyware come from? Places like Facebook and Myspace are a couple. These sites are ok if you don’t click on the ads, games, etc. which are not maintained by the companies that host them. Facebook/Myspace make their money off ad revenue and I think they need a better system of approving these third party companies access to their pages. On all the computers I have worked on with these issues they have all had one thing in common. Sites they visited. Everyone had accessed either Facebook, MySpace, porn sites, Warez sites, Pirate sites, torrents downloads, etc.

What can you do to prevent it? First be on alert and don’t assume you are safe clicking on any popups no matter what the site is. Stay away from known sites that you can be exposed to like I mentioned above or at least approach them with caution. The best software out there right now for protection is Microsoft Security Essentials and it is free. Get it here and do it today.

If you have spyware already then you need to get it removed asap. I have competitive rates if you want me to fix it. If you cannot get it to me, then find yourself a certified Microsoft expert.

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