A Common Computer Security Error That Can Really Screw You Up!

Every now and then you’ll get a pop-up offering you free (or cheap) security software, such as Microsoft Security Essentials, from a download site: “Just click here….”  Don’t! MSE is the latest offering in a continuing series of scams that can install malware on your computer.  MSE is available for free from Microsoft (and it’s a darned good security suite).  Go to their site and search for Microsoft Security Essentials.  Any offer to sell it, even at an “unheard of low price” is BOGUS.

The situation described above is a common ploy of malware distributors to get you to click on their links.  Then you download the software (or they do, you don’t have to approve it), and it not only isn’t the real McCoy, it contains a trojan, worm or similar bad stuff.

The same thing goes for those pop-up warnings: “You Have A Virus!!!  Click here to remove it.”  No no no no no! Immediately go to a site such as TrendMicro’s Housecall or McAfee’s Security Scan, and run the free online scanner to detect and remove any possible infection.

NEVER download any program (or anything else) by clicking on an unsolicited link. Go to the vendor’s site by typing the URL into your address bar, or by searching for the site and first checking the URL that is displayed.  If your browser allows it, use a program like Web of Trust to help alert you to dangerous places on the Web.

DO NOT CLICK ON STRANGE LINKS, EVER!  Not in pop-ups, not in email, not on unknown websites.  Don’t open strange attachments, even if they came from your brother who assures you that his computer runs just fine after opening it.  Most malware runs with no overt indication. Some of it can disable your anti-malware programs (that’s why the online scans are recommended), and some are delayed-action. They can’t get past your antivirus on their own (most of the time) but when you invite them into the parlor by clicking that attachment, or downloading an unknown program and then installing it, you are totally on your own.

Your best protection is common sense.  Along those lines, if you use file-sharing services like BitTorrent, you’ve already demonstrated that you don’t have any.  Good luck.

Check the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Emergency Team site (US-CERT) for more good information to help keep you safe on the Web.

And hey!  Be careful out there.

4 thoughts on “A Common Computer Security Error That Can Really Screw You Up!

  1. ldsrr91

    Thanks for the help Bill, I did what you suggested with the settings and all that, no soap. I don’t know what she got, but it is nasty. The reboot software was misplaced two years ago when we moved to the country, so I guess it is take it to Best Buy and turn it over to the Geek in charge.

    The other option is really not available right now, as I cannot access the Internet on it at all.


  2. Bill Post author

    Also Don, consider an online backup service like Mozy or Carbonite. They’re worth every penny. I’m currently using Mozy, but Carbonite saved my ass a couple of times: once when a MS update hosed Windows, and once after a hard drive failure.

    I also use local backups and imaging, but Mozy is to protect me from myself and my forgetfulness. For five bucks a month, it’s cheap insurance. Also great for putting a new computer into service. Just install the software and it will “restore” all your files to the new machine.

  3. Bill Post author

    Hope you have the installation disc and a recent backup. Sounds like a format and install is in order. However, first you might try rolling it back to a restore point before the “incident.” That might allow you to get online and run a couple of the free scans.

    If you are able to clean it that way, go into your settings and disable System Restore, then reboot and re-enable it. That will delete all your restore points and eliminate any possibility that a future restore could load the malware again.

    Good luck.

  4. ldsrr91

    Last week my wife clicked on a “free screensaver” this week, her computer will not access the net and she has two disabled browsers. All this AFTER SHE WAS WARNED TO NEVER CLICK ON ANYTHING THAT POPS UP. I have so far, not been able to put it back it working order.



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