Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Removing Spyware

1. Recognize Symptoms
Anytime your computer is not working properly, whether pages don't load or you can't login to accounts, you should seek to eradicate spyware. This is the likely problem. Education and calmness are essential when it comes to spyware removal. On the Enigma Software home page are articles about specific infections. The malware research tab is an excellent database on malware, which is corrupt software. If you are here with your infected computer I recommend downloading Spyhunter. It's well worth the money to have security for your files and ability to access the internet for email and social media. A word of warning to do-it-your-selfers,  it is impossible even for computer programmers to manually remove spyware once it spreads through the hundreds of thousands of files in the registry. And you might delete something that severely affects the operation of your computer. Also you need to differentiate the names of thousands of unnecessary files from thousands of similarly named critical files. I highly recommend running scans with reputable anti-virus software.
Viruses cause major headaches

2. Fixing the problem
You can begin by cleaning your computer; either manually or with software.

To do this manually:

  • Go to the start menu and choose All Programs
  • Next choose: accessories
  • System tools
  • Disk cleanup
  • Select the main drive and system clean. This will free up space in your computer to download more movies, and store your videos, pictures and documents. 
  • The screen tells you how much space will free up. Select ok. 
  • Select permanently remove files. 
Fix the problem ASAP

Using Software: Might I suggest a free software Malware Bytes Anti-malware or download the Enigma Software product Spyhunter. I won't say that's all you need to know and leave you hanging because chances are if you're computer is infected you can't read this blog from that computer. So get on that uninfected computer and do your research. Use one of the products I recommended or go to the website of the anti-spyware program you desire. Order the product and pay the extra 10 dollars to get a CD version. When you receive it in the mail, immediately run the software and remove the spyware. But chances are it's still not that easy, take solace I have been in your shoes. You probably still can't get internet to run the scan. The solution is to find the router in your house, a black tower with lights. Use an ethernet chord, a colored cable that clicks into your computer and connects into the router. Now you can work fast to connect to the internet and run the anti-spyware scan before computers in the same household network are infected. However, unless you have a worm, probably only one computer is infected.

Note: Don't simply search for an Anti-spyware program and choose the first option. Remember companies can pay to be listed in the search engine, even if they don't have your interests at heart. In fact, there are many rogue anti-spyware products online.
diligent research saves time and money

PC magazine recommendations for anti-virus software are questionable: they recommend Norton Antivirus, Webroot Software and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2013 (1). Norton Antivirus slows down your computer and never catches anything before, during or after it infects the computer. Webroot catches nearly everything but is extremely bloated and doesn't allow you to do anything else while it runs (even quick scans take hours). I am unsure about Bitdefender since I have never used it. However, Trend Micro is great, I highly recommend utilizing their cloud protection, which is the ability to detect and stop threats in a protected zone, before they infect your computer.

3. Maintenance
Run a scan regularly. Macafee and Avast have green marks next to safe websites on the search results page. Question marks  or red marks appear for unsafe sites. Unless you know the site don't take a chance. Unsafe sites have a red lock over the address bar where the URL resides. Safe sites have a green lock over the http portion of the URL. Be careful of phishing (not to be confused with actions of the band Phish). The point of phishing is to have a similar website to a well known website but with an unnoticeable different name or look to the site. You enter your information into the false website, and that webmaster now knows your password for the legitimate website. This explains what happened to my Amazon account.

Computer Attacked!  Watch this video to see a computer attacked by a current virus.

4. How the infection starts
To be safe: never purchase an anti-spyware program that pops up on your computer. Almost all rogue anti-spyware programs will pose as legitimate anti-spyware programs; like demons appear as angels of light. Research a program, talk about it with friends. Type the name of the program followed by the word(s), scam, error, rogue system, etc. Purchasing a program from a trusted site is often the most reliable method. Nobody knows the adware or spyware that free downloads, of any kind,  add to your computer. Unless it is something like Malware Bytes Anti-Malware that lets you try it out in the hopes of you upgrading to the professional version. There are no free lunches; you have to think how the company benefits from your free download, or the reasons behind it. One musician, John Wesley, a sick guitarist, allows free downloads of his albums because he wants them to be heard. If the site has neither an explanation or a visible way for them to make money, then they are probably earning money by illegally installing adware or spyware with your download. And if it is a really big download you may be susceptible to a Trojan horse back door virus. Very similar to how the Trojans thought they were receiving a free victorious gift and were harmed. On any free download, run a scan. Also be wary of unusually low prices by an unknown company; One such scam offers unlimited free movies for a $1; they then charge you $60 a month. The important thing is to buy from a website of a trusted company without any prompting.
Some sites will rob you 

5.  conclusion
I have explained how to safely surf the internet, preventing spyware. I have shared my experiences with removing treacherous spyware. If you bought a rogue anti-spyware program you are not alone, I and many other bright souls have blundered similarly. The main thing is staying calm when you have no internet access. There are other ways around this. Warning: The biggest sources of spyware are peer to peer networks. Popular ones like Limewire can be extremely dangerous to your computer. My computer was destroyed by a website that shares tennis matches. A truly wonderful site, but one that opens ports from my computer to another. This gives full acces to viruses that have infected any uploader's computer.
free downloads on peer to peer networks destroy computers
Bobby Hurley Jr. wrote the words and provided the graphics for this article.

1. Rubenking, Neil J., "The Best Antivirus of 2012",, August 30, 2012, 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How to remove Adware

Does your computer take forever to load pages? Does the computer strain endlessly doing simple tasks that require little use of the CPU or RAM? When visiting your home page do you often get redirected to other web pages with sales pitches?
         The problem is most likely that you computer is infected with adware. Not to fear there is a solution to remove the adware. I will first tell you common ways adware spreads on your computer; ways to remove adware; and finally some preventative maintenance.

Common ways adware is spread

  1. Free gaming websites or games that come with a computer. Wild Tangent, the result of free computer game package or website, slowed the heck out of my desktop for years.
  2. Free downloads. Often when you want to download free youtube to mp3 software. or free movies, music etc. you may get the service and think everything is fine and you saved money. But you spent something, namely the compromisation of your computer's security. As you allowed the file to download to your computer you also gave permission for adware to download and install to your PC. Not to mention the possibility of viruses. 
  3. Visiting certain websites automatically results in the installation of adware on your computer. 

Removing adware

  • The easiest way is to run a scan. Manual removal is more time consuming and easier to miss infections. For Internet Explorer users I highly recommend Spyhunter from Enigma Software . I also recommend Malwarebytes Anti-malware free from Malwarebytes Corporation   
  • The more difficult way is manual removal. This is the cleaning of the computer. Note: manual cleaning may not remove adware that regenerates. 
  • To clean your computer without software: First click on the start menu in the lower left corner. Click or hover mouse over All Programs. Next select Accessories by left clicking (normal click) it. Next click System Tools. Finally, click Disk Cleanup and following the promptings. 
  • The other way to manually clean your computer without software is to go to the tools setting in your browser and clear any adware cookies. 
  • The best manual method however is to use software such as the Piriform CCleaner. 
  • You may also find it helpful to import your favorites into another browser. Then delete the infected browser, and re-install it.

Preventative Maintenance
  • Pay for downloads. Buy the actual media. It's worth it!
  • Get software (start with what I recommended)
  • Run the scanners often, noting which sites or downloads repeatedly cause adware infections
  • Avoid those sites and downloads! Practice safe surfing
  • Give your computer a cleaning before you shut it down each nite.
  • Download only from the official website for such products as the VLC open source media player. 
Next week I will tackle "How to remove Spyware". Stay tuned!

       Written by Bobby Hurley