I know I’m safe because I haven’t been told I’m not


I keep looking at the title and I’m not sure if it’s good English but it exactly represents what we keep coming across time after time. Just because you haven’t been told something, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. That English seems just as bad, let me explain.

You install an antivirus package and then relax safe in the knowledge that should your computer become infected the software will stop it doing any damage. What if your antivirus package is so poor that it doesn’t react? Your computer is now infected, the virus is doing what it was designed to do, the AV Software is in La La Land but you feel quite happy, safe and secure as nothing has alerted you otherwise.

We all know the damage that the virus or spyware can inflict, not just on your computer but your personal wealth and possibly safety. If you don’t understand, then e-mail me at glyn@cmx.co.uk and I shall try to gently enlighten you.

Taking a recent example of a Windows XP machine running free AVG software, the user had complained how slow the machine was working but considering that it was eight years old we weren’t surprised. We connected it to a new Unix server where it just had a letter representing a volume. Although we had not supplied the machine, it was a simple task.

About five weeks later we were called back because the computer could no longer access the server. A quick on site investigation did not give us any clues so the machine was taken away to our workshops.

The first thing we did was to extract the hard disk and put it on our isolated system. This is a computer that is not connected to the Internet, it has the latest ESET antivirus software and up to date spyware checking software. The advantage of doing this is that we know we are inserting this disk into a clean system and any malware doesn’t get a chance to load before it’s detected in a scan.

The suspect computer had 36,000 cookies, not a problem but rather excessive, however 16 viruses and 32 malwares were definitely bad news. The disk was cleaned, reinserted and the system returned to the client fully functioning and considerably faster than when we collected it and with ESET installed

What damage had been done? We can only guess at as the malware that was loaded was designed to look for a sequence of numbers in four groups of four plus any sequences either side. Sounds like a credit card, expiry date and security number would fit the bill.

If a supermarket gave away free petrol and a short space of time no one would be selling any petrol let alone giving it away. If, however, the free petrol was defective then word would soon spread keeping the chargeable petrol companies in business.

For some reason most of the professionals, and I mean professionals, not enthusiastic amateurs either steer well shy of these products or just wipe their machines and reinstall regularly. The word hasn’t reached everybody that there are better products on the market because most people think they’re safe because they hadn’t been told them not. Or put it another way you get what you pay for.

If you think you’re machine need a check then the antivirus companies have online checking. Housecall by Trend is good and so is the online scanner on the ESET website. These are good at detecting Viruses but for spyware I would use Malwarebytes or Spybot S & D. If you are not sure how to use these then e-mail me or call our Ipswich and Colchester centres which are personned 24/7 and someone will come out and perform a free, yes free, System Health check for you.

I know the plural of virus is virii if everyone is used to viruses as an expression, this is one debate that if I do have an opinion on I don’t really care to express it!

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