Another Infestation and Internet Safety

January 9, 2008 at 11:23 pm (Family Life, Links)

Another friend asked me to debug their computer – this after about an hour of phone support which didn’t help much. Their problem was fairly straight forward. They had gotten infected with a trojan that would frequently pop up a message that their computer was infected, and clicking on the message took them to the site www(dot)virprotect(dot)com. Don’t go there, they aren’t a legitimate company. It took some doing, but I was finally able to remove all traces of that relatively new and nasty little app. You can find more info about that and others like it at http://www.spyware-techie.com/virprotect-removal-guide/

Basically, these trojans (named after the trojan horse) work by convincing the unsuspecting user to purchase a ‘anti-spyware’ application sold by them, which removes the popup. Sometimes it also includes other nasty things as well. Extortion, pure and simple. Immunizing your PC with Spybot after each update will prevent ‘some’ of them. Safe browsing habits will help with the rest. In a nutshell, don’t download or install ANYTHING that you don’t know exactly what it is and who created it. Search for the name of the app, site name, and download file name with the term ‘spyware’ or ‘adware’ and see if it comes up with anything. If not, and you really must have the trinket, scan the download with your virus scanner and spyware/adware scanners before running it. READ the license agreement when it installs to see if it says anything about displaying ads or reporting data and cancel the install if anything looks funny.

This friend also has teenagers, and asked me to retrieve the browser history. They will NOT be happy when they look at it. The only way to guarantee that nothing inappropriate appears on the computer is to have it disconnected from the internet, which I strongly recommend if the computer is in a bedroom. If they need to be online, the PC should be in a public area of the house, where privacy doesn’t exist.

They will be equally upset because they had purchased filtering software for the purpose of keeping the kids off of those type of sites. There is NO application that is capable of filtering everything on the internet. It just doesn’t happen. Some may be better than others, but none are foolproof. Especially if the action is intentional. Teens can be persistent when they want to. They were trying to be good parents, but believed the hype of the filter software which told them that all they needed to do was use it and their worries would be over. Rubbish. You don’t believe 100% of anything else advertised, don’t believe it about software either. If you are going to rely on a filter, make sure that the filter ONLY uses a ‘whitelist’ – a list of sites that are permitted, and blocks everything else.

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