Unfortunately, in my job I see a lot of computers that have gotten a virus or malware and need to be fixed (and not just PC’s but Mac’s as well lately). While some infections are due to lack of adequate protection – up-to-date antivirus and antimalware/antispyware software, others are due to people falling prey to social engineered malware (fake links on facebook etc), or people accidentally clicking on things, or one of the ones I really dislike – a virus coming in through one of the mass forwarded emails.
It is a misconception that just because you have antivirus/antimalware software that it will protect you 100% – even the best software is hard pressed to protect a computer when someone allows something to come in by clicking ok, yes, or installing questionable software or downloading questionable files (yes, all of the people using limewire, frostwire, or torrent software – you all are at risk every time you download a shared file!). Many times a virus or malware will get onto a computer because someone has installed some ‘toolbar’, ‘searchbar’, screen-saver, coupon printer, rebate searcher, or other such program like those worthless ‘speed up my computer’ programs that are either badly written or are actually malicious and downloads other bad software behind the scenes. **Special note: Almost ALL of the speed up my PC programs are basically worthless and can often do much more damage to your computer than good. Anything that messes with the Windows Registry can damage your Windows installation if it remove the wrong things, and many of them do that!
So what can you do to better protect yourself and your computer from these nasties? Here is a short list of things that I always recommend following to eliminate the most common ways that a computer can get a virus, malware or spyware.
1. Never click on links from social networks such as facebook, or links in emails – regardless of what a link says it is, it can easily be made to hide something else. What you can do is right click on the link, select ‘copy shortcut’ then paste that into the address bar of your browser to see what it really is (or if you have the status bar in your browser enabled, you can often see it there) – if you don’t recognize the link or it looks suspicious – DON’T GO THERE!
2. Never open email attachments unless you specifically know that the specific person who sent you that specific email was sending you that specific attachement – too often people will get an email from a friend or family member that has an attachment and that attachment is a virus that a virus on their computer sent without them even knowing about it. If you don’t know what it is, and weren’t expecting it – DON’T OPEN IT!
3. Don’t download songs, software, videos etc from file sharing networks – when you use software such as Limewire, Frostwire, Vuze, or other torrent or file sharing software to download things you always take a big risk because you have no way of knowing where exactly the files are coming from, or if they have been altered – even a song can hide a virus or malware within it and it won’t activate until you play it. Also the majority of software ‘cracks’ or ‘activators’ have malicious viruses in them. Not to mention that downloading copywrited material is also illegal
4: Keep your antivirus and antimalware/antispyware software as well as your operating system software up to date! It is always important to update your system regularly as the software updates often carry fixes for security issues that have been found and without them you are much more vulnerable. Also update your OS to the latest version (yes, if you are still running Windows XP you might have to get a new computer, but XP is 11 years old and was never designed to handle today’s internet).
5: Beware programs like coupon printers, rebate searches, search toolbars, browser add-on’s, screen savers, and especially the fix all or speed up pc programs. Many times these programs are either malicous themselves or are so poorly coded that they make it much easier for bad things to get onto your computer – IF IT ISN’T FROM A TRUSTED SOURCE – DON’T INSTALL IT!
If your computer does get a virus, try to remove it with your antivirus/antimalware/antispyware software, or you can try to do a Windows system restore to a time before you got the virus (as opposed to a full computer factory restore which will wipe all your data).
Got a virus or malware and not sure what to do? If you run into something particularly nasty or need some advice on how to get rid of something, or just need great computer service or computer repair, visit http://pensacolacomputers.com and give us a call.
Security software manufacturer BitDefender today released some very interesting statistics which it has garnered from its Facebook Safego app which allows users to check their vulnerability to malware that they are exposed to via Facebook. The scary results show that 20 percent of Facebook users are exposed to malicous posts in their ‘news feeds’. These users are at risk just by clicking on one of these posts which have been highjacked maliciously. The scary part, is that the sampling that was gotten in these statistics come from people who were at least security conscious enough to install this app in the first place which means that these numbers could in fact be much higher in reality.
A breakdown of how these malicious malware items can get into your computer:
For those who think they are safe because they have a Mac, guess again, you are actually probably more at risk on Facebook through viruses like the latest Koobface variant that is multi-platform due to most Mac users not having adequate anti-virus/anti-malware software (and the inherent flaws already known in Mac security).
Remember, just because a post ‘appears’ to come from a friend, doesn’t mean it does – many people get their accounts hijacked every day, either through malware on their own systems, or just plain easy to guess passwords. Always be carefull clicking links, never EVER download software that comes through a link on Facebook, and be very careful installing any Facebook app.
If you are interested in the Safego app from BitDefender, you can find it here: Safego Facebook App
If you are in Pensacola and worried about virus/malware infection or think you have gotten a Computer virus or have Malware on your computer, visit Pensacola Computers at http://pensacolacomputers.com and check out the Tech Support page there for links to the best free and paid for Antivirus and Antimalware software.
So many people come to me with problems on their computers, from viruses, to lurking malware that steals their passwords and slows down their systems. The funny thing is that many of these same people also tell me that they only use their computer for general web surfing, email, and …….. Facebook. Of course Facebook has become the most popular social networking site on the internet in the past year, but with this popularity comes problems – wherever there are lots of people, their arise opportunities for nefarious types and criminal activity. Unfortunately, Facebook provides these people with the perfect platform to spread their Trojans, Keyloggers, fake antivirus scareware, and general malware crap that will make your PC very sick.
But how do they do it? Well, they take advantage of people by using their friends to help spread their nasty things. All it takes is one friend getting their account hacked (either by using a simple password, or by getting a virus/malware infection themselves), and then the nasties usually get sent out as links to all this persons friends and family. Of course when you get a link from Aunt Martha that says to check out the latest Family video, or from your best friend telling you that you just HAVE to check out this sale they found, you of course trust it, and click on it and BAM! All of a sudden you have pop-ups, or something is telling you your computer is infected, or you suddenly go to search for something and end up on some site that has nothing to do with what you typed in.
So what do you do? The best thing to do is to NEVER click on the links in the first place, at least not from Facebook. If by chance you have clicked on one of these bad links and your computer gets infected, first step is to try a system restore (this is often the best chance to stop the virus/malware before it gets out of control). If system restore appears to work, just remember to update your anti-virus and anti-malware software and do full scans to get rid of any traces. If system restore doesn’t appear to work, you should then try going into safe-mode (press F8 key repeatedly at start-up), and then update and run your anti-virus/anti-spyware programs.
Sometimes, infections can get pretty nasty – especially if they have been allowed to invite their friends to your computer over a period of time. When this happens, and you can no longer get on the internet, or even get to your desktop, you may need more advanced help. Visit Pensacola Computers for immediate computer service (yes, it’s a shameless plug, but it’s my blog and I really can help when your computer is FUBAR’d)
This past week, Facebook has once again been the target of a massive malware attack, this time through a huge emailing campaign that sent out millions of fake emails that read “Because of the measure taken to provide safety to our clients, your password has been changed. You can find your new password in the attached document.” – Of course, the attachment is malware that includes password stealing Trojans, downloaders and scareware fake antivirus software. Opening the attachment is of course on of the big no-no’s in computer security – you should never ever open an attachment unless you specifically know the person and that they have told you that they were sending you an attachment. Facebook continues to be one of the highest used vectors for the spread of malware, and a lot of the danger comes from the inadequate security measures that Facebook takes in regards to its users.
Also this week, the cybercriminals have targeted college basketball fans and celebrity gossip watchers (specifically the Jesse James/Sandra Bullock story). These criminals have very slickly optimized their malware infested webpages for the search engines. Security biggee Mcafee reported that 5 out of the first 10 hot searches on Google Trends were sites that had been hacked to serve malware. Most of these sites are not dangerours to systems that are protected, however there are many people who do not keep their antivirus/antispyware software up to date and are vulnerable.
The greatest defense to all of these things is of course to not visit such sites – however that is not always practical. Keeping up to date security software, and never EVER downloading software without knowing the source, and never EVER opening attachments in emails without first verifying the source and content are important practices to follow. Remember, if you get a pop-up saying to update your Flash player, or Quicktime or anything else, Do NOT allow it to install anything – instead go to the source of the software, ie: Adobe.com for Flash, or Apple for quicktime etc.
Here in Pensacola, approx 60% of the computers I have had to clean malware and viruses off of got infected from Facebook, so for users of this popular social networking site, I advise extra caution. One of the easiest ways to get infected on Facebook is from a friend who has had their account hacked (usually because of using an easy to guess password – make sure to always use a complex password on such sites!). One an account is hacked, the hackers send out messages to all the friends on the persons lists, usually with links to infected websites, so be careful even of messages from friends!
For links to great free and paid for antivirus and antispyware, visit Pensacola Computers.Com Tech Support page