Category Archives for AntiVirus

Protect your computer from viruses

Similar to the way that people catch a virus your computer can also be very vulnerable to viruses. These days there are people out there whose sole intent is to spread them and it is rather easy to get a virus on your computer.  Luckily Microsoft is getting tougher on this junk and I hear rumors that Windows 8 will help protect you much better from this junk getting in as easily.

If you are not sure what a virus is or how to protect yourself please read our article below.

A virus is a malicious piece of code written and designed to enter your PC without your permission and unnoticed. It will then replicate itself and/or possibly cause serious damage to your files and your PC. A virus can come in many forms but they usually come attached to a file, e.g. hidden in Word macros or embedded in executable files or attached to an e-mail, or in the boot sector of a disk.

Once the infected file or disk is introduced to your system, the virus can spread by attaching itself to files on your drives, or by sending infected e-mails to people in your address book. The Internet is a great environment for a virus to spread as downloading and e-mailing and exchanging files and information is common practice. If programmed to do so, the virus will not only spread but also cause damage to your system, such as, but not limited to, deleting files, deleting hard drive boot records resulting in an unbootable system, or erasing CMOS information.

This is a serious threat and should not be taken lightly. Almost every week, a new virus strikes and brings productivity to a grinding halt. The consequences are serious. For a home user, it often results in lost data and a lot of mad friends who received the virus from you. For businesses, a virus can bring down the entire network, often resulting in hours and days without e-mail or online access, corrupted or lost data, productivity loss, etc. Viruses have caused much damage and cost businesses and government agencies billions of dollars in time and money in an effort to recover from a virus attack. Don’t think that you are immune to a virus. Nobody is.

What can we all do to prevent this from happening?

The solution to the problem is two-fold. To prevent virii from spreading, companies install virus scanner software on their mail servers, and home users install virus scanners on their home PCs. Most virus scanning software can be bought in stores for a price, but why pay if there are free alternatives? See the “Security” category of our download section at downloads/security.html for links to several free antivirus solution. Another alternative is to scan your PC online by visiting Trend Micro’s web site, but this option does not offer permanent resident virus protection.

Of course any virus scanner can only work if you have the latest virus definition files installed. These virus definition files, also called DAT files, are being updated on a weekly or even more frequent basis by the maker of each virus scanner software. But it is up to you to download them regularly and update your PC. Most virus scanners either have a feature that let you schedule automatic downloads of new DAT files so that you don’t have to worry about it, or at least offer an easy press-one-button way of doing so. Remember, if your virus scanner does not have the latest DAT files and doesn’t know about the virus, it can’t catch it.

However, the makers of virus scanners are always a step behind since they can’t update their DAT files until they have seen the virus and know how to deal with it. Therefore there is usually a time gap from several hours to several days between the appearance of the virus in the wild and when the cure in the form of new DAT files is available. Since no virus scanner can protect you in that time period, it is up to you to prevent the virus from getting to you.

You are responsible!

The other part of virus protection is prevention. And no system administrator or virus scanner can do that for you. You are the one and only person responsible for exercising caution to prevent this from happening. Here are the top rules of virus prevention. We suggest you print them out, staple them to your forehead, memorize them – anything it takes:

DON’T OPEN ATTACHMENTS FROM UNKNOWN SOURCES! We can’t emphasize this enough.
If you get an e-mail with an attachment from a person you don’t know – DO NOT OPEN IT – DELETE IT!
If you get an e-mail with an attachment from a person you know but you didn’t ask for it and didn’t expect it – DO NOT OPEN IT – DELETE IT!
If it really was legit, the person will follow up with you or send it again and no harm is done. If it was malicious and you deleted it – you’re safe. Virii can only spread if they are activated. As long as the e-mail is not opened and the attachment is not activated, you’re safe.

Virus programmers disguise their malicious software to make it look harmless. Therefore do not assume that an e-mail that is marked “Happy Mother’s Day” or “Funny Joke” or “Great Opportunity” or “Free ” is safe. You need to keep your guard up. If it does not look familiar, if it sounds suspicious – DO NOT OPEN IT – DELETE IT!

A virus can come from anybody – your coworker, your mom, your best friend, anybody! Therefore do not assume that any e-mail you receive from anybody you know is safe. Virii spread by replicating themselves unbeknownst to a user by sending themselves to e-mail addresses found in the user’s address book. This means that virii are most likely to get into your inbox from somebody you know! If somebody you know sends you an attachment that you didn’t ask for and didn’t expect – DO NOT OPEN IT – DELETE IT!

Do not open any attachment that has the extension .vbs or .shs! Virii don’t have to be files ending in .exe to be executed. VBS means Visual Basic Script is another programming language, one of many, that virii are written in. Virii can actually be hidden in many types of files. Often infected files are disguised to look like a text file or a video clip to trick you into thinking they are safe and opening them. Be suspicious of every single attachment you get. If you’re not sure – DO NOT OPEN IT – DELETE IT!

Please use common sense

It is crucial to be suspicious and exercise caution. The number one rule is: Delete any e-mail with attachments that you cannot say with 110% certainty that they are safe. Nobody is safe from virii, but you can help fighting them by using common sense. Remember, a deleted legit e-mail takes only a few seconds to resend. But an opened malicious e-mail can cause hours of downtime, lost productivity, unrecoverable data, and cost a company tens of thousands of dollars as a result. Be responsible, use common sense, and think before you click. The virus threat is real.

Top 10 Internet Safety Rules

Top 10 Internet Safety Rules

The internet has made many things easier for us, but it has also created a whole new venue for con-men. We hope to improve your safety while on the internet with this list of rules. Crooks can destroy our computers or access our personal information unless we learn to protect ourselves. Here’s how to do that.

Bookmark these internet safety rules !

1. Make sure your computer has a firewall.

Most computers come with a firewall installed. You should customize the privacy
settings, before you start browsing the internet using a new computer. If you have
several computers in your home, you can protect them all using a router with a firewall
installed. Some homeowners find that a secure router is more convenient. Firewalls help
prevent hackers from accessing the information stored in your computer’s memory.

2. Install an anti-virus software program.

Anti-virus software protects against viruses. Viruses are basically a kind of vandalism.
They serve no real purpose. The codes for many viruses are written by practical
jokesters. Once your computer is “infected”, everything seems to slow down.
Other programs may act strangely. Eventually, your system may crash all together.

3. Install an anti-spyware program.

Spyware and viruses are similar, but the purpose is not the same. People install spyware
in order to gain access to your personal information or to use your email address to send
spam to all of your friends.

4. Regularly upgrade the security features of your operating system.

Depending on the type of operating system that you have and the type of web browser
you use, you may receive notifications when upgrades or updates are available. You
should choose the “install now” option. The programs are upgraded regularly, because
hackers are constantly changing the ways they operate. You have to change, too.

These internet safety rules can help you avoid a lot of the common issues people get.

5. Regularly upgrade all of the security software programs mentioned above.

Programs are available to automatically upgrade or update, whenever a new patch or anti-
virus becomes available. If you don’t have an automatic version, you will need to install
the upgrades yourself. Hopefully, the system will notify you when one is available.

6. Choose good passwords and keep them in secure locations.

This might be number six, but it is one of the most important of the top 10 ways to
keep your computer safe online. Hackers have to figure out your passwords in order to
gain access to your system. There are cheap programs that allow them to do that. One
program tries every word in the dictionary.

A robber could enter your home and transfer money from your bank account or steal your

personal information, if they can find your passwords. Either keep your passwords on
your person at all times or store them in a locking box or safe.

Use different passwords for different websites. This will help limit the amount of
information stolen in case you are hacked.  You can easily pick the first half of any name
and append a special number to the end to create passwords on the fly that you can recall
easily. Never use your debit pin number for anything online though.

Of all these internet safety rules this one is really important.

Passwords should be 8-10 characters long. Numbers and/or symbols should be included
along with lower case and upper case letters. Don’t use your kid’s names or anything
else that would be easy for a thief to figure out.

Change your passwords every three to six months just to be safe. You can use a
password auto-generator if you can’t come up with unique, difficult to crack passwords
on your own.

7. Invest in an external hard drive just in case.

No matter how good your security system or how unusual your passwords, no system
can be 100% safe. That’s why you need a backup system. You could store important
information on removable discs, but storing those discs becomes a problem. An
external hard drive is a good solution. It is not connected to the internet, can be
stored in a safe location and should have enough memory to serve all of your needs.

8. Think twice about file sharing.

File sharing can be tempting. Other internet users offer free software programs and other
downloads. But the files can easily contain viruses or spyware. Just think twice before
you accept these offers.

9. Learn to identify and avoid phishing scams.

Of all our internet safety rules, this one is very important. Phishing scams are used by individuals
and bogus companies to get your personal information. Social security numbers, bank account
numbers and credit card numbers are among the things they may ask for.

The emails they send typically look very authentic. It will appear to come from a creditor
that you do business with. You will be advised to click on a link included in the email to
verify your information.

The email may indicate that failure to click on the link and verify your info immediately
could result in your account being closed or cause other problems. Do not click on the
links. Call the creditor’s number that appears on your statement and explain the situation.

10. Read their privacy policies before dealing with an online merchant and look for a
security icon.

Although some scammers have become quite good at forging security icons, they usually
lack a page confirming their privacy policy. There may also be some differences in the
appearance of the icon, which usually resembles a shield.

In addition, you can look at the website address. Website addresses of non-secure sites
begin with “http”. As with most internet safety rules, this one is important too.  Secure site
addresses begin with “https”. The “s” stands for secure.

These internet safety rules can really help you protect yourself online.  Another great
post we have made to help you protect yourself is our Top 10 ways to prevent Identity Theft.

These internet safety rules can really help you protect yourself and your identity online.

Don’t forget to Bookmark the top 10 internet safety rules.

 

Real Broadband Essentials Review

Broadband Essentials by RealNetworks

Real Broadband Essentials is definitely essential! We have been running the Real Broadband Essentials through some vigorous testing the last few days via their free 14 day trial available here. The results are really positive, you get all the essentials to keep your computer in top condition. You even get to try it out totally free for 2 weeks. You get Antivirus software, Firewall, Ad protection and much more. Everything you need to protect your computer if you have a fast internet connection that is always on like cable, dsl etc.

You get all this with your free trial:

McAfee Spyware and Adware Removal
McAfee Firewall
Google Toolbar Pop-up Blocker
NetNanny Parental Controls
Network Magic Home Networking
System Mechanic 7 Tune Up and Repair
Fototime Photo and Video Backup
RealNetworks Plus Video Player
Speed Test
Automatic Updates

We are happy to give the Real Broadband Essentials package a big thumbs up to our users.

5 STARS!!!

If you have not tried it yet you can click here to get a totally free 14 day trial. I think this will be one of your favorite downloads ever since you have been on the internet! Try it out for a week free and see if I’m exaggerating. I assure you that I’m not.

I think more companies should follow the Real Broadband Essentials lead and offer free 14 day trials of their products. It only shows the companies confidence in the quality of their product if they offer you a totally free 2 week trial to use their product.

Just our opinion, yall enjoy and have a great day!

Spyware Doctor Review

The paragraph below has been copied straight from the Spyware Doctor website. The paragraph will be used as a principle to review the truths of the program.

 

Spyware Doctor is a top-rated malware & spyware removal utility that detects, removes and protects your PC from thousands of potential spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, spybots and tracking threats. Protect your privacy and computing habits from prying eyes and virtual trespassers with the help of Spyware Doctor.”

 

One thing you immediately notice upon installing the Spyware Doctor is the ease of updating the program. After you install and open the program you are prompted to run the Smart Update feature. This insures that you have the latest version of Spyware Doctor at all times. After the updating is complete you are free to open and use the program.

Download Spyware Doctor

Spyware Doctor Update

Spyware Doctor Update

 

Before you begin using Spyware Doctor you may be interested in reviewing the Spyware Doctor Quick Start Guide. This is an overview of the most common tools used in Spyware Doctor. The guide shows the buttons of the interface and what each does or represents. The guide also lets you know about the navigation of Spyware Doctor and how to use the Smart Update feature. If you need further assistance on Spyware Doctor you can use their Help option for more detailed information.

 

The main screen, or the interface, of Spyware Doctor is easy to understand and use. The simplicity is refreshing but also can leave you wanting more. I do enjoy all of the numbers and facts listed under System Status on the interface. For example, when the subscription expires or when your last scan was done. I like that it is very obvious as to whether your protection is on or off, too.

Spyware Doctor Scan

Spyware Doctor Scan

 

A really great thing about this program is that you are still able to run and operate other programs and such of your computer WHILE running the scan of Spyware Doctor. All too often your computer slows down drastically when a search or scan of this nature is being done. With some, you might as well start the scan and leave the computer until it finishes, but not with this particular program.

 

Don’t let the straightforward name fool you, Spyware Doctor does much more than watch out for simple spyware. This program uses IntelliGuard to immunize your computer against malicious ActiveX objects. Spyware Doctor will also rid tracking cookies, Trojans, dialers and keyloggers from your PC while IntelliGuard is in the active stage.

 

I have noted many great features of Spyware Doctor and overall I think it’s a great program to use. This program is not only something I now, personally use, but something I also recommend to any and all PC users. The value of your dollar goes so far when using Spyware Doctor to prevent horrible things from happening to your computer that it would be crazy not to be safe and get this program.

Download Spyware Doctor

 

 

CyberDefender Review

Update 10/11/2011 – You can remove all adware and repair your pc with Reimage!

Click here to download Reimage total PC Repair

We also suggest you try the new Free Windows Essentials for your antivirus and antispyware defense.

Due to all the complaints we have received and forwarded to Cyberdefender without a response we have decided to recommend everyone try our suggestions above instead.

The article below will stay on the site for reference.

“CyberDefender Early Alert Center analyzes threats and calculates the risk levels of suspicious files and processes that may contain harmful spyware and viruses or may be phishing sites. This expert system tests and ranks threats on a Universal Severity Scale™, and updates the CyberDefender threat database automatically.”

The above sentence was taken directly from the CyberDefender website. I wanted to use this sentence as a guideline for testing and reporting any faults or positives in the Cyberdefender program.

Interface

First I would like to state that it’s nice a company that produces protection software finally figured out it’s easier to browse and figure out a program when you have access to everything on a single layout interface.

The main interface gives easy access to monitor the status of each protection type. From spyware to scam or phishing protection addressing settings and options is fantastically easy.

Each subcategory is easily viewable and accessed.

cd1

Performance

The best thing I can document is the ease of use. Not just the overall ease of use, but how many of you have tried to scan your computer with your current protection software while still retaining the use of the pc? “Sluggish at best” comes to mind right?

Out of the box the greatest piece of design built into CyberDefender is the low impact on resources during scanning and active monitoring. I would enjoy meeting their design team just to congratulate them and shake their hands on this fact.

This isn’t your typical protection suite. Even with all proactive monitoring in use (spam, phishing, spyware, and virus) as well as performing a full system virus scan I noted my CPU load was not over 40%. I am noting the hardware configuration of the laptop that was used to test the functionality below.

Item Value

OS Name Microsoft® Windows Vista™ Home Premium

Version 6.0.6000 Build 6000

System Type X86-based PC

Processor Genuine Intel(R) CPU T2400 @ 1.83GHz, 1833 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 2 Logical Processor(s)

Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = “6.0.6000.16386”

Time Zone Central Standard Time

Total Physical Memory 2,549.82 MB

Available Physical Memory 1.24 GB

Total Virtual Memory 5.17 GB

Available Virtual Memory 3.77 GB

Page File Space 2.78 GB

Protection Available

Just insure you have a complete understanding of the available security and protection I want to list the available features other than virus scanning

  1. Early Spam Protection: The spam protection integrates with your current email client to provide an incoming and outgoing email scanner which provides a more complete security suite.

(See picture Below)

spam

  1. Early Spy Protection: Active monitoring and protection from spyware and adware software types.(See picture Below)

Early spy

  1. Early Scam: Protects against phishing scams which are used to collect your data.

(See picture Below)

Early scam

Additional Security Features

While CyberDefender not only supplies you with virus protection, but as well offers spam, spyware and phishing protection there are a couple of features which I would like to list that you might want to know about.

Early Monitor includes the following features not previously listed.

  1. CyberDefender monitors the Windows update site for patches and updates to the Windows operating system.

  2. It also monitors your firewall status and protection to insure you have the right protection.

  3. Easily access and maintain control of cookies on you systems.

  4. Password protection:CyberDefender shows you the passwords saved by Windows which can be accessed by others. Take control and remove the saved passwords, don’ allow windows to save such information.

Additional Features

additional features

Aside from comparing performance, cost and overall effectiveness of CyberDefender against it’s competitors one thing you can note about the software that no other competitor offers is 24/7 PHONE AND EMAIL ANTI-MALWARE SUPPORT.

 Cyberdefender apparently charges several hundred dollars per year for computer support and access to their main program which is supposed to keep your pc running smoothly but we hear very different stories from consumers.

Considering my experience with the CyberDefender software I would have to agree with their statements concerning the performance and effectiveness of the program. I would even go as far as having to state that I would consider CyberDefender to not only be a valuable piece of software, but a required piece of software in the fight against virus, spam, phishing and spyware infections.

Download CyberDefender Now – Download Link Removed – We recommend you Download Reimage

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Botnets

Spammers and hackers today are very sophisticated when it comes to covering their tracks. Instead of sending spam or using their own computers to attack an orginization or individual they now employee Botnets.

 A Botnet is a collection of computers (that have been hacked and taken over) which a remote user can use to execute operations such as spam, DOS attacks and other types of mailicious activities.

To quote another article I recently read: “Joe St. Sauver, manager of security programs at the Internet2 networking consortium and the University of Oregon, said there are 5 million to 5.5 million botnets in active rotation at any time.”

Article: Botnets Running Rampant Neal Weinberg, Network World care of PC World

The best way to help prevent this from occuring for an end user is to keep your operating system up to date; Always have an updated virus software running (with a scheduled scan enabled weekly); Employee a good firewall.

I understand many of the computers that are part of Botnets are generally not an end user machines, but rather machines hosted in a public environment such as libraries, campuses and other public domains. Is there no IT staff available to monitor these networks?

Generally speaking the case is that the IT department is so understaffed, overworked, and under budgeted they simply don’t have the time or the money to implement the proper equipment which can detect and prevent this from occuring. That is if they have an IT department at all.

Look…We all know how to prevent most of this from occuring. I am by no means saying it will ever stop, because anything that can be secured can be hacked (it’s all a matter of time), but lets atleast try to secure our own computers.

If you would like more information on how you can secure your computer please follow this link to a previous article over best security practices I previously wrote. I hope it helps.

Old Ploy-New Virus

Last seen in 2006 another virus known as “Ransomeware” is trying to extort US $300 from users. The virus apparently encrypts your personal files.

After your files have been encrypted the virus then copies a file named read_me.txt  to the PC. This text file simply contains a ransom note which demands the user buy their software for $300 in order to decrypt the files.

The virus states that it uses a RSA-4096 algorithm with a 4,096-bit key. This is surely just a ply to extort money, but apparently the files do have some sort of encryption.

As well the virus seems to only have a limited shelf life from July 10 to July 15, but knowing the past actions of the hackers that create of these viruses it is likely we will see another variant.

Apparently Kaspersky is working on a decryption scheme to save these files. If you are ever infected by such a variant remember it is vary unlikely that paying the ransom will get the hackers to release your files.

Always keep your virus software up to date and run a frequent full system scan. Backing up your data to a secondary location can save your files as well. 

Symantec Incident Update

I previously reported on an incident where an automatic update provided by Symantec for their Norton Antivirus program identified two system files in the Simplified Chinese edition of Windows XP as malware, and quarantined them.

Symantec decided to provide free upgrades of their software to the affected users. Of course I would always be weary of accepting a free software license for a program title which already compromised my system. Symantec did not see it my way though.

Symantec’s upgrade offer was widely criticized by the Chinese press when it was first announced.

As of late Symantec has declared the compensation offer a success, but they declined to identify how many users had accepted their offer. Considering they only offered the compensation for two and a half weeks starting from June 27 .

Symantec has extended its offer for individuals who could not or did not access the upgrade. Of course this offer is on an individual basis. Each incident must be reviewed and approved to extend the upgrade offer.”After this date anyone who missed the registration date should contact Symantec Customer Support or email symantec.authorised.support.cn@clts.com and we will give consideration to extending the date for that individual customer.”

Considering it was their blunder from the beginning I would think they would bend over backwards to satisfy the affected customers. At least thats what I would do.

Back To Work

Does anyone else find it hard to pick up work after vacationing? Having completed a weeks worth of vacation I am back to the grind….well….sort of.

I am using this day to read up on new stories and technologies for new content on the site. Please bare with me while I compose myself and get my head out of the vacation cloud. Of course this is not easily done…

As you can see from the last post we are now taking posted questions to better serve our users. As well I would like to add if there is a new technology or concern you would like for me to address please post a comment to this blog. I would be happy to research and address topics for our users.

After all….It is you the end user for which we create the content.

Symantec Update Effects Chinese Users

Has anyone else heard the news of the update provided by Symantec which seemed to cause havoc for the chinese version of Windows?

Apparently on May 18th Symantec authorized and update for one of their programs which it turns out identified two system files as malware and subsequently quarantined them. The issue apparently effected somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 Pc’s.

Symantec says this issue seems to be caused by an automated process. Hmmm!

Users who lost data due to Symantec’s faulty update demanded compensation. I cannot say that I blame them.

After at least two lawsuits were filed Symantec saw fit to respond. Symantec decided to offer license extension and product upgrades for the blunder. If it were me…well I would not want to continue use of a program which has already put a halt to productivity and damaged my operating system.

Symantec has been nice enough to have alloted just a couple of weeks for effected users to accept there upgrade offer as well.

I wonder if this will effect their credibility in other regions?