Windows often fills with malware and junk when kids are trying to install games. These are often “browser helpers,” alternative browsers, or other search tools. To fix these junked up computers, many users install more malware that is pretending to be helpful software.
Much of the software can not be removed using the standard “Add or remove programs” tool built into Windows. That’s when I turn to Geek Uninstaller, a lightweight tool that can force the removal of pernicious software and related traces left in the operating system registry.
Microsoft recently released Microsoft Safety Scanner, a simple on-demand virus scanning tool that works happily alongside other virus protection software. For example, you can use it alongside the always-running anti-virus offered by Microsoft Security Essentials.
Wikipedia describes computer phishing scams:
Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Phishing is an example of social engineering techniques used to fool users, and exploits the poor usability of current web security technologies.
Remember to avoid these scams by going directly to the site instead of clicking on a link sent to you in an email.
Here’s an email I just got. It’s either a classic phishing email, an attempt to infect your computer with a virus, or both.
From: Paypal <Services@support.com>
Subject: Your account has been temporarily limited
Date: November 12, 2010 1:26:37 PM EST
Your account has been temporarily limited
Click here to resolve the problem
* Please do not reply to this email, as your reply will not be received. This is an automatic notification of new security messages.
PayPal Security Department Team.
I have mentioned several times that Conficker is considered the most dangerous virus to date.
The Atlantic Monthy magazine has a great article titled The Enemy Within on the history of Conficker and where we are now. It’s a fascinating read for both technical security buffs and non techies.
The Enemy Within by Mark Bowden
When the Conficker computer “worm” was unleashed on the world in November 2008, cyber-security experts didn’t know what to make of it. It infiltrated millions of computers around the globe. It constantly checks in with its unknown creators. It uses an encryption code so sophisticated that only a very few people could have deployed it. For the first time ever, the cyber-security elites of the world have joined forces in a high-tech game of cops and robbers, trying to find Conficker’s creators and defeat them. The cops are failing. And now the worm lies there, waiting …
Image credit: Alex Ostroy