Is Your AntiVirus Product Enough?

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Compuhazard sign,copyright 2009 St. Albans Art Studio
Compuhazard sign,copyright 2009 St. Albans Art Studio

is Your AntiVirus Product Enough?

Do you run a known antivirus product like Norton or McAfee on your home or work PC? If you do you probably feel ever so safe knowing you have the ultimate protection from the myriad viruses and malware distributors lurking on your internet pages! Well wake up and smell the motherboard frying! YOU ARE NOT PROTECTED!

A new form of Malware called Ransomware and Rogueware has now invaded the Internet. And it is the most insidious and hard to kill malicious software program ever devised. And guess what you can get it without McAfee or Norton even seeing it. In fact some types simply shut off your whole protection system, infect it and keep you from ever using it again! After that it infect your boot registry and basically makes your computer not only dysfunctional, but causes it to become a breeder for its awful program and downloads viruses onto your machine in order to hijack it for evil purposes!

Ransomware, as described in the MSNBC RedTape Chronicles last week, is basically a program which hijacks your computer telling you that you have viruses on it, and that the only way to rid your system of them is to pay the company that is warning you. However it is more than a warning. It is a complete takeover of your system. Click on a program and it will tell you it is "infected" and nonoperational. And it is infected. Infected by the hijacker! Unless you pay them seventy dollars, you will never be able to use your machine again. One evil company called "Data Doctor" actually encrypts all your computer programs remotely and then makes the victim pay to decrypt them! These evil and worthless little "geniuses" (at least in their own sick and bizarre minds they are geniuses...but to me they've crossed the line from genius into madness), seek profits from kidnapping people's computers and are becoming ever more twisted and devious!

These ransomware programs show up a lot on porn sites, shopping sites and social networking sites. You know them by their effective infection campaign. This starts not from the page itself, but from adware on the page. You need not click on it. The infected ad simply needs to show up on the screen. You will suddenly get a warning window which seems for all the world to be a WINDOWS SECURITY WINDOW. It will flash and warn you that it has found a virus on your machine. If you click on "Enable Security" you are infected immediately. If you try to click the "cancel button" it will instantly begin a fake scan and download to your machine as you sit stupefied! If you try to click the red X-button to close it, it will also start the scan and download! If you EVER see such a window pop up there are three things you can do. The easiest is, if you have no other programs with stuff you need to save running, hit the OFF button on your computer tower or laptop and just turn the computer off! If you can't do that, try hitting ALT-F4. This should close down the page you are on quickly. though in some browsers like Mozilla it takes a moment because it asks if you want to save the page for later. Just click NO! The other thing you can do is, if you have McAfee or Norton or another antivirus program up (which you should always have while surfing. Just bring up the antivirus home page and leave it up while doing your internet surfing. This seems to thwart these malware programs somewhat.) If you see the Windows Security Warning, click on your antivirus program and select LOCKDOWN FIREWALL. This will take you off the internet quickly.

The big thing is, don't sit and do nothing and NEVER click anywhere near the Windows Security Box.

I have just spent an awful two weeks repairing my computer when I accidentally clicked on the "Enable Security?" window of one of these malware ads. It looked so real that I thought it was a Windows Security window. It said it had "trapped a virus" and was keeping it from executing its program. Did I want to enable Windows Security? Well I clicked on it. Yes. Like a fool I clicked on it. The minute I did it downloaded its awesomely devastating program onto my computer. In an instant I realized I had just cooked my own nice, juicy goose! I got off the Internet only to find the "Malware Defense" program had how taken over my machine. It had an icon on my desktop and every time I tried to do anything a windows security message would come up: "We recommend you install and run Malware Defense now!" When the message was up it would not let me get on the internet to browse. It hijacked the pages I tried to go to and went back to some page of its own called NetSettings or something. Apparently once I was on that page viruses were immediately installed to my machine. I know a bit about computers and I tracked down where Malware Defense had installed itself and deleted it. But after that all hell broke loose. three icons for porn sites came onto my desktop! The computer program that put them there then actually accused me of getting viruses from surfing porn sites! The malware/virus now continually brought up the Windows Internet Security page, but after a bit I could tell it was not the real one. Because it had the ad attached to it and one of the words was misspelled. I realized it had infected the whole Windows Security program, and it also did something to my McAfee so it would no longer scan anything. What I didn't know is that it had infected and taken over the entire operating system.

For days I tried to work around the program rebooting in safe mode, trying to do a network link. I asked for help form Cox, my provider. They had nothing to offer. They told me to go to McAfee. They had nothing to help with either! They steered me to an outsourced group called "Plum Choice" which promptly robbed me of over a hundred dollars to tell me that they too could not do anything since I could not boot in safe mode with networking. Their counsel was to take the machine to Best Buy, pay $250.00 and have them fix it. It took me three days to get my money back from these 'computer experts' at Plum Choice who basically were helpless in the face of this malware.

Working like a demon I found that I could get into safe mode with networking by rebooting my machine three times very quickly. the virus had caused the boot system to keep saying there was a keyboard failure or auxiliary device failure. After the third time it would finally come up in safe mode. Still it would not let me get to the McAfee pages. So I downloaded Bit Defender. After much trial and error I was able to scan the computer. Only to find that it had at least two trojans and a bunch of malware on it. the trojans were also being used to upload movies while the computer was running! I got a nasty letter from Warner Brothers about me stealing their product! And I got a nasty letter from Cox as well. So I wrote one back. Telling them it wasn't me, since I could barely get the machine to function! But anytime I hooked into the Net someone was using the trojan to wrest the machine from my control and use it how they liked! Often the machine worked perfectly unless I tried to get on-line or when I tried to go to a Restore Point. After I tried to register BitDefender, it too stopped working! This was one insidious little demon of a virus! And the Malware infected the machine with the virus. This new sort of monster is called "Rogueware."

Rogueware doesn't just try to steal your money to rid your machine of itself. It tries to steal your credit card information so it can rob you blind and when you don't respond it ruins your machine. The FBI is looking into the new wave of viral technology, but it is useless to hope that agency will do much to find these people.These criminals may be employed by the Antivirus companies to run processes that the Antivirus company can then help us get rid of for a price...maybe as some suggest it is a vast conspiracy to keep their companies active. But seriously if they can't find or stop these viruses it most likely isn't them. However these criminals are not some computer savvy Nigerians or Iranian terrorists trying to produce a scam. This is the work of extremely intelligent program writers who have knowledge of all the ins-and-outs of how nearly every major virus program works, how adware works, what sites are easiest manipulated, etc. These are super hackers. And at some point they had to be employed by major security systems companies.

I was told in no uncertain terms by Plum Choice that these criminals and their "warez" had the capability of preventing computer experts from downloading their tools to fix a computer. That they had the ability to keep a computer from downloading any of the well known antivirus programs, and that they could use your computer for any nefarious activity they wanted while keeping the owner from doing anything about it and making the owner look bad, even to the point of putting child porn on the users disk! I found out that several computer experts have recently literally rebuilt their client's machines from the ground up, because the virus had infected even the ROM and RAM memory chips! On my end I had what was called a "Boot Virus" which screwed up the whole boot system. The more fixes I applied, like changing registries, etc. the deeper the virus went to escape until I could no longer boot up at all for awhile.

In the end the only trick that worked for me was to unplug the computer for two days, take out the battery on the motherboard in order to reconfigure the boot system back to default. Then I found an interesting little utility disk on-line that helped me reformat the entire hard disk, eradicating the virus completely from the system. Then I had to reinstall Windows XP and all my programs. I was smart enough to have backed up everything important to me on my external hard drive, and to use the several times the computer did work to back up the rest before I took the leap of reformatting. (Backing up your data is the most important thing you can do! I know. I am an author and lost my novel twice back in the day when I had a terrible Tandy computer with 60 megs of memory!) I was so scared I waited for two days tinkering and futzing before I stood tall and made the decision to reformat. And I am no computer expert. I figured that I would screw the process up so bad that my poor 'puter would never recover. But, here I am typing away on my own almost like new ten year old Dell computer with a totally new formatted hard drive and all new fresh programs! Believe me if I can do it you can do it. And all thanks to the utility disk I found for a very low price of fifteen dollars. For that money I outwitted a virus, outwitted the Plum Choice robbers, the Best Buy Cyber Geek Squad, and the other companies like our local Scottsdale "Data Doctors" that wanted to take me to the cleaners. (I have gone to these geeks at least four times in the past and not once were they ever able to help me. Like many repair shops they'd say "it's cheaper to get another computer!" And they couldn't even retrieve data off a damaged hard drive! Hell, even I can do that!) I may even go around helping others fix their computers for a few bucks and undercut all this hapless competition!

The main thing to take away from all this is that first of all the most expensive high profile antivirusware providers are the ones these criminals attack! So that if you have the expensive antivirusware, you are almost certain to be attacked at some point. I found that the smaller providers like Spybot and AVG (some of whom actually have free anti-spy, mal and virusware you can download), are actually the better providers of service. Why? Because they aren't busy running a billion dollar corporation that doesn't give a fig about you. they are running a small staff and company dedicated to helping others and making a decent living. Secondly when you see something pop up on your screen warning you of viruses, SHUT DOWN! Don't think about it, do it! Another thing you can do is leave your "Local Area Connection" (LAN) icon up on your desktop so you can quickly right click on that if need be. Or even detach your modem cable or unplug it from the power source! Don't worry. My wife and I have tried each process, they all work.The TAGGED.COM site we were on is now infested with these malware ads and fake security windows. We witnessed at least fifteen other people get these infections. Some of these people have not been heard from again. One poor guy had his phones and modem infected! And some of them just wound up paying the ransom to get the ransomware off their machines. But Tagged.com is not alone. attacks on Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Google and other big name sites is on the rise. Google has even gotten the NSA involved because of cyber-attacks on their site!

Friends, this is a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise. And in these hard times, the criminals will get worse and worse as they get better and better at cyber-mugging and e-robbery. Protect yourself. Read the great blog and see what these viruses and malware progz can do at http://redtape.msnbc.com/2010/01/. It's a great article. And if you want to know more about cost effective Utility Programs to help you reformat your hard drive, email me personally at: whisperindave@gmail.com.

Screen Shot

Typical "Warning" from a Malware prog.
Typical "Warning" from a Malware prog.
Screenshot of Malware activity from Panda.com
Screenshot of Malware activity from Panda.com
Compuhazard computer, C. 2009 St. Albans Art Studio
Compuhazard computer, C. 2009 St. Albans Art Studio

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