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Why am I Infected ?

 

On my business network or personal workstation I have one or more of these options:

  • A Spyware detector and remover (Which I run all the time)

  • An Adware remover (Which I run)

  • An Antivirus (always protecting me)

  • A firewall (Stopping the hackers)

  • I am careful what I use on my machine.

I should be protected. I should be safe. I have the best I can afford.

 

Why do I have

  • Internet popups -or/and-

  • Increased Spam -or/and-

  • My machine running slow -or/and-

  • Weird icons appearing on the desktop -or/and-

  • My internet explorer is hijacked and goes to weird sites -or/and-

  • My bank rang me to tell me that I have been hacked -or/and-

  • I can't boot my PC to the windows desktop, it hangs

  • etc (Name your weird issue here)

Why do I have suspicious activity yet I have the latest in protection and it is set to constantly update it's detection files. I paid good money for it! I pay for a good IT technician to protect me from these things. Why do I always seem to get these things and nothing stops it? Why can't the IT technician prevent these things?

 

You have Malware. It has gotten around your protection. This is very common and no one software company currently has the solution.

 

It is very hard for one program, an antivirus or firewall, to protect you from every type of Malware. If you get one Malware, it will likely install and download more rendering your machine useless, even with all the protection you have been religiously subscribing to and updating.

 

Malware is a generic term that covers malicious software and code. It is code which in essence does nasty things to your PC and your privacy.

 

Malware includes:

  • Viruses  (Infections that travel quickly and usually do damage to your PC)

  • Adware (Pop up ads trying to sell you things)

  • Spyware (Watch what you do, log passwords, email addresses etc)

  • Bot-nets (Turn your PC into a drone for spam or other activity)

  • Trojans (Take control of your PC through things you download and trust)

  • Hijackers (take over your internet web pages)

  • Rootkits (Secretly hide themselves and other software on your PC)

  • Ransomware (Encrypt and password your files, provide the password if you pay)

  • Phising (A fake website that looks like the original, grabs your user details)

  • Spamming tools (Makes your PC into a spammer)

  • Hacking tools (Allow hackers remote access or hacks on their behalf)

  • Key loggers (Records all your key strokes and send them to a server)

See the following page about activities that can lead to you can getting Malware ?

 

Why can't I detect or remove it?

Why does it appear my protection is not protecting me?

 

Recently Malware infections have been multi-blended. That is, they have multiple types of infections in one infection or payload. For example, they are a virus but are hidden by a rootkit. They are a spamming tool but hidden by a virus. They are a Trojan but look like a legitimate tool you downloaded and wanted.

 

Antivirus software packages are great for detecting viruses. They are useless against Spyware, Adware and most Rootkits. If you get a rootkit, it can then download viruses and cloak them from the antivirus, allowing them to run rampant. A lot of viruses now shutdown your antivirus but leave the icon running so that you think you are protected but you are not. These things are stealthy and take many different types of approaches to remove or even detect. They attack from so many angles that the traditional antivirus can't detect them or they have been compromised and not working.

 

Your antivirus might now be useless and not scanning for any viruses or simply told to look the other way for a specific virus. It might be the best software in the world but once compromised or once a virus knows it's weakness, it is useless by itself.

 

Often Adware detectors are useless against Spyware. They also ignore many viruses, Trojans etc.

 

All these programs are not the 100% perfect solution.

 

How do these things get past my security?

 

The biggest single reason is humans. Users. You. You download things, inviting them through firewalls. The firewall is not going to stop a hacker if you invited them in though a tool you installed, your favorite chat program (like MSN messenger), your MP3 download software, like Limewire or many more such examples.

 

Social engineering is the art of getting your data and information by pretending to be someone who needs it. Someone you trust. Just like those phising emails asking for your banking details. Social engineering preys on the weaknesses inherent in society.

 

It is the same with Malware. You see a popup telling you that your machine is infected and you should download a patch. The patch is actually a virus and you have just been tricked. The Malware is now on your system, makes your antivirus useless and downloads viruses etc.

 

Another reason you may have become infected is the sheer number of Malware released and detected daily. If your antivirus updates daily, that is great. It will detect all the viruses that the software manufacturer knows about. It will not stop those they do not yet know about. If you update at 9 am, what is to stop you getting a virus at 11 am if a new one is just released. Viruses now take minutes to get around the globe. A virus writer could release a new virus no one knows about at 11 am in China, it could then make it's way to Russia, the USA and then your inbox. How many of us subscribe to email services overseas? Who has friends overseas? Just as easy as it is to email them and get a fast reply, so to can a virus travel the world. Your software will not even be aware of the virus or what to do with it until the following day at 9 am. You can set some antivirus to hourly updates but is this frequently enough?

You need to be mindful and if your machine is miss behaving, it is time to seek a reason.

 

To add to this, there are weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the software we use. We might have downloaded MSN messenger to chat to our relatives across the globe but do we know about the various hacks and Malware that travel through MSN using exploits?

 

You might visit an undesirable site containing a web page that hacks your PC and loads it full of Malware. There are sites like this in the Myspace system and most notably, hacking/cracking and serial sites. Watch where you surf. Watch where others on your network surf.

 

Once these things are on your network, they duck and hide. They become undetectable.

 

What can I do about this?

 

If you have something weird happening, get a second antivirus opinion from a web based antivirus like Trend Micro Housecall.

 

Turn on your Microsoft firewall (If not already turned on).

 

Install an Spyware detector like Spybot.

 

Look through your Add/Remove in control panel. Is there anything there that is installed that should not be?

 

If you have Malware and you can't clean it, try booting into safe mode and cleaning it from there.

 

If you suspect a rootkit, download and run rootkit revealer to see if you can find it.

 

If you have not installed anything recently you can also try a Windows XP/Vista System restore to a previous state.

 

You can download and run Hijackthis to see if you can see something starting when the machine boots, something that should not be there.

 

If you still can't find it and you know you have something, you need to call one someone with experience. There is no formulae for finding and removing Malware. It involves experience and intuition. Can an IT technician. He will likely find the Malware and can use tools like BartPE and process explorer to remove it.

 

 

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To keep up to date you can refer to my blog

 

If you are viewing this page then these specific other pages in this series might be of interest to you:

  • Tools to remove Malware and Viruses
  • Tools to remove Malware etc but still under review by me
  • A page dedicated to helping you get the information needed to remove Malware
  • Spybot installation steps
  • How to perform an online Housecall Virus scan
  • What is Malware ?
  • Why are people using my email address?
  • How did someone steal my Email address?
  • Why is my email being blocked ?
  • How can I reduce spam ?
  • Why did I get infected ?
  • How to Handle Spam!
  • Why do I get all these bounce backs to my email address ?
  • What is a Drive-By Malware attack ?

     

     

     

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                                                                 This page was written and designed by Michael Jenkin (Mickyj) 2011 ©