Spyware |

Gadgets Be Gone!

Posted July 19th, 2012 by Mark with No Comments

If you are one of the folks using Windows Vista or 7 that use “Windows Gadgets” (those floating desktop applications like the clock, stock ticker, weather forecast, etc.) – you need to do this now.  Seriously.

Windows Gadgets 2

Windows Gadgets

 

A long-standing, but recently “outed” security vulnerability in Windows Gadgets will likely be used in short order as a way to deliver infections or worse to your computer.  Microsoft’s (and my) recommendation?  Turn them off.

There is a simple method provided by a Microsoft “Fixit” link, here.

To do this, click on the link, decline the “experience survey” if offered, then look for the Fixit link in the middle of the page on the left labeled “Disable Windows Sidebar and Gadgets.”  Click this link, if offered, choose “Run”.  If your browser (like Firefox or Chrome) requires that you save the file first, be sure to click on the saved file to run it.  This file will do exactly what it says, disable the Windows sidebar and gadgets.  When finished, it will ask you to reboot your computer – which you should do.

While Gadgets were never a critical part of the operating system, they were useful.  It’s unfortunate that they chose not to fix the problem.  Be sure to let us know if you have any trouble – this is the sort of thing that can be easily done in a short remote session if you need help.

Do it today!




New Ransomware Virus on the Loose

Posted July 10th, 2012 by Mark with No Comments

Latest ‘FBI Virus’ Infection Scarier than Most

 

Twice in the last week, I’ve run into a new twist on the old “fake antivirus” infection.  Normally, these types of infections pretend to be helper programs.  They put up a fake scanner window supposedly showing how badly infected your computer is, then magically offer the solution – usually trying to trick you into giving them your credit card number to “buy” software to cleanup your computer.  The idea is to scare you enough to believe the ruse.

This latest version ups the ante by pretending to be from the FBI.  It has the official FBI logo on the main screen, with lots of official-looking verbiage about section such-and-such of the criminal code, and how you’ve broken the law by viewing child pornography.

They further raise the stakes by having a “video recording” window at the top where, if you have a web cam, it actually takes your picture!   The screen goes on to pretend to levy a fine, list the penalties if you don’t pay immediately, and finally offer a button where you can pay the fine.

The text explains that you can’t tell anyone about it, or you could risk arrest, additional fines, being registered as a sex offender, etc.  Scary stuff.

FBI Virus

Ultimately, this is the same scam as always, but admittedly is a little startling.  Perhaps enough to snare a few more unsuspecting victims.

This infection is known as the “FBI Moneypak,” and you can get it merely by visiting an infected website.  One of my customers reported getting infected trying to buy baseball tickets directly from the team site.

Here is a link to the (actual) FBI press release about the infection.

If you happen to get this, the advice is the same as always.  Disconnect your computer from the internet and give us a call.  We’re here to help.




DNS Changer – How to Protect Yourself

Posted May 3rd, 2012 by Mark with No Comments

DNS Changer – Do this now.

The usual media storm of hyperbolic headlines about the latest spyware / malware scare has begun. Here’s my explanation, along with ONE simple thing you need to do.

A few years ago, some bad guys in Estonia cooked up a deal with companies selling fake “little blue pills.” They wrote a piece of malware that, once installed on your machine, would wait patiently until you tried to go anywhere on the Internet. It would then leap into action and redirect you from your intended destination; taking you instead to a site selling these fake pills.

The crooks got a percentage of any purchases made — which netted them about $14 million dollars before the FBI and Estonian police shut down their operation.

To minimize disruption on the Internet, the FBI kept the redirecting computers running, but set them to send you to the actual site you requested (in other words, act like any other “DNS” server and just route traffic appropriately).

The real news here is this: The FBI doesn’t want to keep running these computers forever. They will be shutting them down on July 9th this year, unless they receive an extension and additional funding.

When the computers are shut down, people who have this infection, but don’t know it, may have problems searching the Internet.

 

How to Check to See if You’re Infected

 

To check to see if you have this infection, just go HERE. If you get a green graphic, then you’re clean and good to go.

DNS Changer - NOT Infected

If, on the other hand, you get a red graphic,

DNS Changer - You're Infected

then you have the infection and should call us to help remove it.

That’s it. Take this small test before July and let us know if you need help.




Avoiding Spyware

Posted April 16th, 2012 by Mark with 1 Comment

Avoiding Spyware, Viruses & their ilk

Avoiding Spyware

Ok, open Internet Explorer, click on the “Tools” menu, choose “Options”, then click on the “Security” tab.  Locate the box “Allow spyware infections” and UNCHECK it.

Of course, it’s just not that easy – if only there were such a box…Back to reality now.

The bottom line here is that there is no absolute way to prevent being infected.  This is a war, and every day there are new and increasingly-clever spywares trying to infect you and get your money or your data.  Every day the anti-virus and anti-spyware softwares offer updates to protect you against the latest threats.  Depending on which side is ahead in this war today, you can be infected, even with the latest protection, or you can safely carry out your business unaware that your software just fought off a nasty virus.

So – How Do I Avoid Spyware?

  • Have a good anti-virus software, and make sure it is running and up to date.  Know (or find out) how to tell when something is wrong.  Most softwares have visual cues, some do not.
  • Have a good anti-spyware software (maybe more than one), and make sure it is running (or make sure you run it weekly if it is not automatic) and up to date
  • Load your Windows updates.  At least twice monthly there are new Windows updates.  Most all are security related and need to be loaded to give you your best chance at avoiding infection
  • Use a firewall.  Consider getting a router with a built-in firewall, even if you don’t need to share your connection between computers.
  • If you think you are infected, STOP.  Update your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, then disconnect your computer from the internet.  Now, run full scans with your softwares and remove whatever is found.  If you have an infection that refuses to be deleted, call us.  That’s why we’re here.
  • Stay away from questionable web sites.  Free music, games, ringtones or screensavers aren’t.  Free, that is.  File sharing is risky at best and most-likely illegal.  Clicking on unknown and unbidden emails or attachments is inviting infection.  Don’t click on website popups, even if they look legitimate.  Just say NO.
  • Make sure all users of your computer understand the rules and understand how to run scans with your protection softwares.
  • If you have multiple user accounts on your computer, each user account may need to be scanned separately.
  • Lastly, if you have to lower your protection for some software to work (cough….work VPN’s…cough), make sure you raise it back up again when you are through using that software

Well, there you have it.  The undercurrent here is that this is YOUR computer – YOU are in charge of your defenses.  Make sure you have a backup (Call us to help with this!) just in case.  Call us if you don’t understand what to do next, of if you get infected despite your best efforts.  We’re here to help.