Salvation from Viruses, Rootkits, Malware and Spyware. How to protect yourself.
A friend of mine at work has found himself battling some serious computer demons. "A friend of his wife’s", (the story always starts that way) has a laptop that is running slow and causing problems. It took only a couple of minutes to determine it was the victim of some malware, probably had a virus and some spyware seeping through.
Oh course the machine has an OEM copy of Windows, no recovery disks and as for anti-virus, I’m not sure it even had any. If it did, it sure as hell wasn’t working. Anyway, the battle began on Monday night. I met back up with him on Thursday and he looked to be a defeated man. He told stories of at least 10 viruses on the system, quite possibly a rootkit, definitely Malware and Spyware and since he didn’t have any disks, getting to scan the machine before Windows loaded was proving to be problematic.
I’ve been there. I’ve been given this laptop before. I’ve had that "friend". After much discussion and gnashing of teeth I offered my suggestions on how to get around this mess. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but who knows if he can resurrect this machine. We all agreed the best thing to do is reformat the beast, but they don’t have the Windows disks.
So here are my suggestions:
Go to Amazon and buy a copy of Norton Internet Security 2012. You can buy a single PC license for $18 or a 3 PC license for $27. Let me just say this and cut through the haze, free anti-virus is bullshit! There are times when you get what you pay for and if you’re going to hang your ass out on the Internet all day, every day, you better protect it. Do you trust free condoms from strangers? Really? Pay the $30 and get some real protection in there.
Next, go to Norton and download the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool. This is the Boot CD or Boot Disk so you can get right at the machine before it starts. You may also need to download Norton Power Eraser which is specially designed to aggressively target scamware. That sounds wickedly powerful, so yes, give it a go. But seriously, download the Boot Disk and scan your machine with that if it’s infected.
Next, download SuperAntiSpyware. It does indeed have a silly name, but it’s damn powerful software. It’s stops Malware, Spyware and Viruses from getting onto your system. It does a lot more than just clean up some tracking cookies. If you try and click on something evil, it will pull you out of the fire. For system that have more bugs than a Thai Bath House, there is portable version so you can boot it off a USB key. You can get a LIFETIME license to the full version for $20.
There is also MalwareBytes. Like SuperAntiSpyware it will get onto your machine looking for all sorts of ill. They have a free version so you can run it against your infected machine and yourself out of the soup.
But seriously, before you start calling up your local tech guy, who obviously has nothing better to do than mess with your laptop, spend the $50 to protect yourself. Get a copy of NIS 2012 so that when you click on the things you shouldn’t it will stop programs from sucking the life out of your machine. Spend the $20 for a good Malware, Spyware app so that when sites try to attack you, there’s a barrier. You don’t go swimming naked in shark infested waters covered in bacon grease do you? Why do you jeopardize your machine so?
Just remember, don’t be cheap. So far, my friend has invested 4 hours in this problem and has made no advances yet. There’s at least another 4-6 hours of work ahead. Considering the technical depth of his knowledge, you wouldn’t even get him to look a machine for less than $50 an hour. This project will waste over $500 by the time it’s done and more than likely will get this person shunned from his house and not invited over to the next party. And I tell you what, if I were doing this work, you for damn sure would be buying me a bottle of top shelf Vodka or Whiskey and we know $50 isn’t gonna cut it there. AND you’ll be buying the AV and Malware apps anyway, because I’m not going through this crap again.
As the saying goes, pay a little now, save a lot later.
Think about it, what the right choice here?