Tag Archive for spybot

Tuesday Tech Tips

Topic for the day:  The bad guys and the battle for your processor time.

Slow computer?  Not uncommon these days.  There are many causes, some just because the software you are using is overcoming the capabilites of the computer you have, but more often than not, unless you just decided to become a big time video edting geek on your 10 year old ex-corporate office hand me down Pentium III Compaq computer running Windows 2000, it’s an issue of the things that creep onto your hard drive, and load themselves each time you start/re-start your computer.

There are many names for these things, but the ones most responsible for significant slowing of your computer are most likely because your system has become a “zombie” in a massive network of infected computers around the world, cranking out spam emails.  Ther is big money in this, and there are people who have master control over the infected systems, and are paid well for using “cloud computing” before cloud computing was a viable term, to deliver those spam emails to your inboxes, based on what some marketer wants to get you to consider.

Recently I read the good news is the email traffic on the Internet comprises only 97% of the volume.  Good news?  Yes…because we’re down from 98% in 2008.  So, if you know how many jokes and inspirational emails you forward without comment, how could it be possible that so much more traffic could be spam?

Infected computers.  The best well know term for this might be “MalWare” (malicious software), but the software isn’t loaded to hurt your own system, it’s just there to use your processor to churn out emails on mortgages, debt reduction, free cruises, weight loss, etc, etc, etc.  That’s the slowdown factor.  It doesn’t care that you need to make a powerpoint show up for this coming meeting, becuase you let it in, so it’s like univited guests that come and decide if they can find it in the refrigerator, or the pantry, it’s theirs.  Don’t leave your car keys out, either.

The malware programs get in, scan your email contact list, randomly pick a contact’s email and go to work.  This, as a side note, is also why sometimes you get an email from someone telling you, via the forwarded mail, that you were sending spam.  You look at the text and have no clue why, or when you would have done that.  It wasn’t you, it was your email address from someone elses address book on someone else’s infected computer.

If you’re system, after it’s booted up, is dragging, when it wasn’t and you haven’t installed some new software to put yourself on the cutting edge of somoe capability, you just may have that uninvited guest using your processor.   Time to complete a few simple steps to correct the problem.

First, run your anti-spyware software.  Spyware?  Yes, that’s how it’s found, along with software that may be sitting around, waiting for you to type your creditcard number, but you’re still going after the malware zombie making code.

Spybot is a free utility.  AdAware is also free, but has paid for versions to automate more of the scan process, if you choose.  Install and run one of those of you have nothing.  Make sure you allow the installer to get the latest updates, at it is a leapfroggging game of the bad guys writing new wyas to do this, and the good guys blocking it, and sending you the updates.  You may have an old zombie/malware/spyware in your system, but you may have a brand new one, too.

After the scan is completed, then ensure the spyware prgram deletes the identified problem code, adn, the next most important step is to re-start you computer.  Why?  The virus like software is stored on your hard drive, and told to load at startup into memory, where it runs.  The scanners check the hard drive for the program, but cannot look into the active memory of the computer to see if a program is running.  So, what you “found” is the code on the hard drive, and even if you delete it, the program itself can still be in memory, cranking out debt relief emails.  By shutting down/restarting, you clear all running programs out of the “RAM” (random access memory) and when the computer begins it’s next run, the bad code is off the hard drive and not loaded, so your “uninvited guest(s)” are no longer hanging around, driving your card, eating you food and using the washing machine in front of your own load of clothes.

There you have it.

Compute smarter, not harder!