Rogue Security Programs

Spring has sprung in Southern Oregon.

Had a client come to me and tell me he had a bad problem with his computer.  It was an easy diagnosis.  It was a “rogue” security program.  A program that installs itself from various websites and software and then runs itself, takes over your computer, and swears you have a virus and other various problems.  Problem is, he didn’t have a problem until this program came along.

This particular client did not want his machine formatted and the system software(s) reinstalled.  Which is ashame.  It’s the fastest and most cost efficient way to handle it.  In my (not) so humble opinion the only proper way to handle the problem.

However, yes, I was able to rid the machine of the software. It took many hours, lot’s of scanning, and then some services needed to be turned back on, and corrupted files needed to be rebuilt. Literally, four days worth of work.

Why this “rouge” security program is not classified as a virus is beyond me. It installs trojans, takes over the machine, and basically strong-arms the PC user into paying for services that were not needed until it came along.  My client was most certainly willing to pay, as a lot of folks are, to just get his computer back.  Problem is, after you pay, things don’t usually go back to being normal.  You still pay someone like me to get rid of the dirt!

There are several ways to help keep this “rouge” (Vista Antispyware 2007, was the name, though it has many) from visiting you.  Keep in mind that, good habits can help lessen the damage.

1. Back up, Back up, Back up.  Regardless of anything that happens along the way,  if you back up your files to a drive that it not attached to the machine (external, thumb, flash, etc.) then at least you’ve got those saved and you won’t worry so much about loosing data.

2. When checking email only open attachments from someone or a company that YOU KNOW and TRUST.

3.  Always run an Anti-virus program. There are a few good FREE ones out there available. Microsoft Security Essentials is FREE! (download here)

4. Run a program called Malwarebytes (an anti-malware program) on a regular basis.  Depending on your usuage, perhaps at least once per week.  There is really no excuse, there is a FREE version.  (download here)

5. NEVER use TORRENT (or other peer to peer networking)  programs.  Look the truth is, if you are using this program there is a really, really GOOD chance you are downloading illegal software, music, or photos.  It is a perfect way to get a virus.  If you want a virus, just keep using it. If what you are doing is actually legal, then only download from known, & trusted people.  Personally, I NEVER use them.

6. Only download software from known and trusted sources. I use CNET (download.com), Tucows, and a couple other places.  Or I don’t download.  Games are notorious for containing viruses and malware.  Think twice, and think about buying the game off the shelf where it is more than 99.9% change it is virus free!

Be prepared, that in the case this virus does catch up with you, that you are ready to have your hard drive wiped and all software reinstalled.  If you are not ready for that, then you are not ready to have a virus.

Have a great day!! Peg

About PeggyAnn

Professional PC Consultant, Researcher, & avid people watcher, Peggy Ann Rowe started into her genealogical quest at age 15 after watching the mini-series, "Roots" with her parents. This new obsession has fueled her love of history, & study of cultures & societies in every epoch. Today she is 57 years old with four kids who are all grown up (& all have flown the coop). In between her 'gigs' with clients she volunteered at many different non-profits. Former President, Secretary, and Director at Large on the board of the Douglas County Historical Society for 10+ years, and former Secretary at the Cloverdale Historical Society (Sonoma County) for nearly 10 years. This website is an attempt to share the knowledge she has gained about her family ties with others who may be interested in the same things. She does not guarantee 100% accuracy and does hope that you will send corrections. To learn more about her, click the "about" button in the page menu. Thanks! Another goal of this website is to disseminate a message (i.e. education) about domestic violence, child abuse, and all forms of sexual abuse to society at large. The message comes from real experience from the whole spectrum of the violence from sexual abuse by a perpetrator to sexual abuse perpetrated by a husband, to the abuse of children within the family. Peggy has seen it, lived it, and been hurt by it. There will on occasion be details that might be hard for some people to read, and a warning is usually posted at the beginning of the essay so that those who want to turn and not read may do so. The only way to teach and to let others learn what to avoid is to SHARE what happened with every detail necessary to make the point. Thank you.
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2 Responses to Rogue Security Programs

  1. Rob says:

    Peggy I hate those, between you and I we’ll call them viruses, and we get them all the time here at work. God love our staff they work with some really tough kids and the kids well… that’s another story but there are A LOT of people around here who are just not that computer savy. We’ve had a few situations where for one reason or another we have had to rid a system of those things without reformatting but as you said its a pain in the butt. They keep reinstalling themselves moving their registry entries all over the place etc etc etc and once that’s done as you pointed out things still rarely go back to the way they were before. Just reformat and get on with life…it’s usually the easiest.

    I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do this even though I tell other to do it and that’s to have backups in three different places. You have your copy your actively using, then one on a CD or DVD and one on a external hard drive or something similar. Also don’t keep all copies right together in the same place. If your house catches on fire and you loose everything those backups wont do any good if they are all sitting together in your computer desk that just went up in flames.

    As for the links I often don’t even open links from my own mother, sorry mom, because as well intentioned as she may be I just don’t really know that the link she sent me is legit or that a site its going to send me to doesn’t have something bad etc.

    I’ve only recently started using Microsoft Security Essentials but it seems pretty decent so far and I have used MalWare Bytes for quite awhile now and it does a great job. When I’m trying to just clean up general junk and such I also use CCleaner. I’m sure there are other better programs out there but its free and it’ll get rid of a lot of different odds and ends files as well as a basic registry cleanup.

    Stupid viruses, if you have never listened to Steve Gibson’s podcast Security Now you should go to his website grc.com and check the section that has all his pod casts and listen to the most recent one I believe about how the internet works part 1. In the beginning of this one they discuss a new root kit and how it uses a novel idea to hijack your system before it even boots so that anti-virus and other protections cant act against it.

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