Friday, September 30, 2011

Best antivirus. Virus removal. Antivir, Virus scanner

A fairly common problem I get calls for is the removal of malware from a computer. I ask people how they received the virus and in a lot of cases they don’t know. In the past I found the infection was an email attachment, but more recently the infection has not been associated with an email.

One customer was tricked into thinking their computer was infected when a pop-up message appeared as they were browsing the internet. They went ahead and paid their money to have the problem removed, which in turn actually infected their computer and provided the scammer with their credit card details. Pretty scary stuff really.

I thought I’d share this article which shows that around 85% of infections are now caused when browsing and of the 85% just five programs result in 99.98% of infections. If the information is correct it means all people need to do is keep five programs up-to-date and that could significantly reduce their chances of being infected. Unfortunately whilst that sounds logical it isn’t. This will help with malware which isn’t new, but new malware will find exploits in programs which have not yet been patched so people are still exposed. The lesson here however is keep the programs updated if they’re installed on your computer.

The programs are:  Java JRE, Adobe Reader/Acrobat, Adobe Flash, MS Internet Explorer, Windows HCP (Help) and Apple Quicktime. The first three account for 85% of abuses by malware. Interestingly Internet Explorer is only 10%. Just applying the updates for five software packages when they are ready may reduce your chances of being infected considerably.

For clients how want to feel more protected, I provide a disk which is based on software made available to American soldiers. The software allows you to boot your computer from the disk and protects your computer from being infected. This is a great option for those who are worried their computer may be infected but still want to do their online banking or pay bills. Great for those who are travelling and would like to connect to the internet on a family member or friend’s computer, but are concerned that it may be infected. Great if you want your children to be able to use the computer but not risk infecting it. Great if you want staff to use a work computer and not risk infecting it. If clients need a disk contact me. There is a small distribution fee of $9.95 plus postage if required.

It now makes more sense why people don’t know how they infected their computer. The flaws in unpatched software enable people to infect their computer just by visiting a site on the internet. It has happened to me. I once searched using Google, went to a site, and the site infected the computer using a vulnerability in Internet Explorer SP1. That vulnerability was patched in Internet Explorer SP2.

What is also interesting is a lot of people push alternate browsers in the belief they somehow provide a greater level of protection. From the article this doesn’t appear to be the case. Based on the percentage use people using browsers to the percentage being infected, it appears to be fairly consistent across the browsers. The other browsers will most likely be exposed to the same issues because they use the same applications. You shouldn’t necessarily think that changing your browser will give you any greater level of protection. You’re most likely better off making sure your software is kept as up-to-date as possible.

Another more drastic approach might be to also disable or even remove the programs giving you the greatest exposure. I wouldn’t like to suggest that because of lost functionality. That would have to be a choice each person makes for themselves. For example I don’t have Java JRE installed on my computer and haven’t noticed any issues for a long time. When it was installed I did notice quite a few infections in the cache which was a concern. Doing without Acrobat Reader would be hard and a lot of sites still use Flash. Both Flash and Adobe Reader can be fairly easily disabled until you need them, so that is an approach which could be used.

Whether we like it or not, when we are on the internet there are a lot of people who have a lot to gain by infecting our computers. We need to make decisions and take action which minimises our risk to an acceptable level.

If you’ve infected your computer and live within 10kms of the Doncaster/Templestowe/Eltham area and need assistance, you can contact me on 0415 910 703. As part of cleaning customers’ computers I also install free antivirus software which I’ve tested for over a week that has shown to be better than other common free software and also the commercial software I’ve tested.

Kelvin Eldridge

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