It’s not a good idea to go out “unprotected computing” these days. Like just about everything else mankind has invented, there are good uses (nuclear power – Lighting up a city) and bad uses (nuclear power again – Blowing up a city). The bad uses aren’t even to the users behind the keyboard of the computers these days, but those who infect your computer with many bits of code that are there to make your system work for someone else (mentioned a few Tuesdays ago regarding slow computers) or to steal your info.
One type of software out there that sucks people in is what I have termed “ScareWare.” Bad stuff at several levels…
Here’s what it looks like to you: you’re minding your own business, or reading everyone else’s on Twitter tweets, and all of a sudden, a windows appears in the middle of the screen with some ominous warning like: “YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED WITH SPYWARE/MALWARE/VIRUSES! – Click here to scan your computer.” You, being the concerned user you are, do that. Next, there are the normal downloading and installing software indications. You keep clicking the “Next” buttons until the process is complete.
A system scan begins, the “progress bars” show, the number of files checked the viruses (or what ever found) clicks up. Finally, the scan is done, and sure enough, there are things to be removed. You click to get rid of the problems and….yes, you get the dreaded “You must purchase this product to remove the _____________ click here to enter your credit card number.”
You’ve been had. At the top level, the software has most likely found some legitimate things on your system that do not need to be there, some of them rather benign, and you want them off. At another level, you now have a program that is installed and pretty much got into your system by false representations. Just about all of them I have run across do you no good.
In one case, the anti-virus software imbedded itself, didn’t appear on the list of programs installed, so you could remove it the normal way, and…the bonus “gotcha!” was you couldn’t log onto any of the sites to get the free software, or even the big name legitimate software to remove this alien being on your hear drive.
My advice, if you get the ScareWare installed and it begins to nag you, very heavily, make sure you save any and all data off your computer you wish to save for the future, because, I saw a case where the machine would just reboot every 5 minutes and all I could do was to completely reformat the hard drive and begin all over installing Windows.
Note: you must save it to a CD/DVD/USB drive, a back up/external hard drive to make sure you have it. Family pictures, work documents, resumes, address lists…etc. Gte them off, then try to root out the offending software.
Your first step: See if you can get on to www.symantec.com, or < ahref=”http://www.mcafee.com”>www.mcafee.com or www.lavasoft.com. If you can’t get them to come up without errors, then you have it bad and you should mentally prepare yourself for completely restoring your hard drive.
Next week more on how to do the best you can coming back from a close encounter with “ScareWare.”