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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Malware problems

I and one of my friends spent most of the past few days trying to remove malware from our computers. Both of us got messages that our computers have been infected with spyware and prompted us to buy software that will remove it.

Of course, one thing that was clear to both of us was that it was just a ploy to get us to buy the supposedly some anti-spyware application when in fact, that person/company itself installed spyware on our machines. The names of the anti-spyware app would some times be AntiSpywareMaster and some times, something else. A search on the internet confirmed that many people had similar experiences. Some of these people ended up buying the software based on the popup messages they got but the software did nothing to remove the malware.

In my friend's case, the process of removing the spyware turned out to be relatively simple. I had her install Lavasoft's Ad-Aware and after scanning her computer about 5 times, the spyware was gone and things were back to normal for her.

However, in my case, the problem turned out to be more serious. No matter how many times I scanned my PC, the malware never got removed even though a couple of times, Ad-Aware identified the malware and supposedly removed it but I still kept getting malware infected messages. In addition, the system performance was quite slow and whenever I went to sites like Yahoo and Gmail to check my email, my inboxes would never load up. When I went to a site, some times, all of a sudden, multiple windows of that site would open up. Worse, searching on Google for the malware messages I was getting automatically would load up an anti-spyware page which of course, I knew was just another way to convince me to purchase the useless antispyware. I also used anti-virus software but again, that didn't do anything to remove the malware.

Since I have Windows XP, I tried doing System Restore but that also proved fruitless. My system would show only one previous date to choose for restore and that would always fail without doing the restore. Ultimately, I gave up and had to reinstall Windows and other apps again - it was a time consuming and frustrating experience. For people who create and install such pieces of crap on others' system, I just hope that nature pays them back appropriately for the nuisance they cause to innocent people.

One thing I have learned as a result of this experience is to create frequent system restore set points. Now, every time I scan my system using Ad-Aware, after the scanning process. I use Ad-Aware's option to create a set point for system restore. Hopefully, in future, if there's ever such a problem, I can always roll my system back to a previous date using System Restore feature in XP.
posted by Ruby @ 12:41 AM  
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