IM basics – use protection – malware

Protection against viruses* and the like.

nasty viruses and malware
There are a surprisingly large number of people attempting to get their insidious programs installed onto your computer. They may be trying to get access to information such as email addresses, user names and passwords. They may be wanting to send thousands of emails via your email account. Or they may just be trying to disable your computer or trash your data (because that’s really grown-up). But whatever the reason, people are constantly trying to get their programs/scripts installed onto your computer(s).

Traffic Exchanges and Mailers are sometimes used as a method of distributing this crap because there are thousands of people daily viewing hundreds (or thousands) of pages. Most TE’s and mailers will say they are checking for viruses/malware when you add an advertisement, but don’t be lured into a false sense of security. Malware is constantly changing and detection is beyond the ability of the scripts.

So ensure you have antivirus software installed and always ensure that it is up to date (both the program and the definitions) and check that it is active. Ensuring you have antivirus installed and up to date is worth diddly-squat if it’s not running.

Everyone has their own favorite, and I would not suggest anyone change their antivirus unless they are unhappy with its performance. But if you a currently looking for a recommendation, I use a minimal install of the avast business version (business.avast.com). I use avast, and in particular this version, for a number of reasons. Even though this version of avast is free, it is far more reliable than the majority of paid options from alternative providers. The minimal install doesn’t include all the bloatware and therefore doesn’t impact as much on the performance of the computer and, more importantly, the minimal install doesn’t reactivate ‘features’ (for example, secure DNS which completely cocks up my network) that I have chosen not to install, each time the program is updated. And I don’t have to request a new activation key each year.

If I have any concerns that something may have found it’s way in (no antivirus solution is always going to catch everything), I run the free version of Malwarebytes from malwarebytes.com (custom install – don’t install anything other than malwarebytes – including any free trial offers).

And make sure that you don’t have more than one antivirus program active at once. If there are two antivirus programs running on a single computer, they will each try to install interceptors into the same part of the system kernel. This is likely to result in conflicts between the antivirus monitors – probably with one of the following consequences:

  • One of the two antivirus programs will fail to intercept system events.
  • Each antivirus program’s attempts to install parallel interceptors will cause the entire computer system to crash.

It is acceptable to have one or more spyware** or malware*** protection programs on the computer in addition to an antivirus scanner.

The better TE and Mailer owners work hard to keep objectionable material off their sites, but occasionally things can sneak through their defenses. As a member of a site you can help by reporting any advertisement that is flagged by your browser or anti-virus scanner as suspicious (as well as any objectionable advertisement or an advertisement that takes you away from the TE or Mailer to a different site (frame breaker).

Stay safe out there.

nasty viruses and malware


*A computer virus is a program, script, or macro designed to cause damage, steal personal information, modify data, send e-mail, display messages, or some combination of these actions. When the virus is executed, it spreads by copying itself into or over data files, programs, or boot sector of a computer’s hard drive, or potentially anything else writable. To help spread an infection the virus writers use detailed knowledge of security vulnerabilities, zero days, or social engineering to gain access to a host’s computer.

** Spyware or snoopware is a term used to describe a software program that has been designed to secretly gather information about a user’s activity. Spyware programs are often used to track users’ habits to better target them with advertisements. A computer can be infected by spyware by visiting an infected website, downloading infected software, or installing infected software. Most antivirus programs can clean spyware but it’s also a good idea to run an anti-malware or malware cleaner such as Malwarebytes.

***Alternatively referred to as scumware, malware is malicious software designed to change your settings, delete software, cause errors, watch browsing habits, or open your computer to attacks. A computer can be infected by malware by visiting an infected website, downloading infected software, or installing infected software. Most antivirus programs can clean malware but it’s also a good idea to run an anti-malware or malware cleaner such as Malwarebytes.