Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Adware, Scareware....I'm being attacked...Aaagh!!!

Wow, I've had a busy week or so at home fighting infestations on the home PC which is connected to broadband. This surprised me as I already have plenty of anti-virus and adware/malware protection, good security levels and firewall settings etc.

It seems a few of my daughters clicked on some weird adverts which arose directly or indirectly while on Bebo and before long I had nothing but trouble with loads of various strange uninvited programs and hidden files hopping around the PC.

The most cunning of these was manifested by a flashing security sign on the bottom toolbar which regularly launched a small pop-up saying that the computer was infected with a Malware type virus and to click for more help. In doing this I was directed straight to a very plausible looking website called spyfalcon.com which could fix the problem. This was very professional looking - with impressive picture of a Spy Falcon retail software box, loads of information and testimonials etc. You could download the software for a reasonable cost by giving credit card details. I was slightly tempted until I noticed that nowhere was there an address for the company nor a way of e-mailing them. Then a bit of Internet research showed it to be a Scareware thing - a complete scam.

Another problem was infestation of Internet Explorer - even though my home page was blank - by launching IE I was directed to another security site which was also very impressive - but yet another complete scam.

I ended up working very hard in most of my spare time over the last week finding how to sort out all the problems - via Internet searches, forums, talking to experts etc. I was successfully killing loads of problems and hidden files - but many were returning and one nasty program in particular - Smitfraud - was very hard to shake off. The other thing is that full scans can often take hours to execute - so you are going away, coming back, revisiting overnight etc. Eventually the only product I could find to really fix everything for good was XoftSpy - which I bought yesterday online for 48 US Dollars. It was also very fast at scanning. I would highly recommend it.

I'm left stunned by the ferocity of attacks and damage which can be carried out from the Internet and the incredible plausibility of some of the anti-virus software scams out there which can grab money by the poor user being conned. Then there are these nasty hidden key loggers etc. We are all used to the silly stuff which comes in by e-mail - false banks etc., and you know never to open unknown e-mail attachments - but this was on a different level of cunning.

On a scale of 1 - 10 on computer skills I might be a 5 or a 6 from working professionally in the telecoms industry. However, God help those who naively expose themselves to the raw Internet! No wonder Internet Security is such a growing business for profit making. It's like a constant war keeping evil away and probably getting worse!

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