If it Ain’t Dirty, Don’t Clean it

Amid all the Holiday Hullaballoo, malware attacks can be nasty. However, beware where the warnings are coming from.

You must have a malware scanner on your computer – Mac, Windows or Linux – don’t compute without one. Period. You also need to heed the warning dialogs they display. If you’ve got a bug, or if it catches one before it infects you, do what it tells you in order to get rid of it. However, do yourself a favor, mind where the dialog boxes are coming from.

Case in point, last year, my wife got hit by a nasty piece of malware that totally hijacked her computer, down to the BIOS level, making it useful as nothing more than a door stop. I couldn’t even replace the hard drive. The infection had corrupted the laptop’s BIOS. In the end, I had to replace the PC; and the lesson from this is CLEAR – when you’re surfing the internet and you see a dialog box popup informing you that you may already be infected, or are infected with malware, make sure that the dialog box is coming from your malware scanner.

Unlike Soft32, some download sites have software that are infected with malware. Some sites permit popups and pop-unders that advertise malware scanners that aren’t malware scanners at all. They’re really nothing more than applications that steal your personal information, and hijack your PC unless you either pay to get rid of them, or pay a subscription fee. The popups or pop-unders I’m referencing look like legitimate system utility or malware scanner dialog boxes.

Don’t trust them; or any of the information they contain.

Be sure you know which malware scanner you use. Insure that THAT program’s name is listed in the title bar of the dialog box you’re reading. My wife thought she was protecting herself and her computer. In the end, she lost not only her PC, but some pictures and videos we’ll never get back.

I was recently talking to a family member who had a similar issue happen to them. They knew enough to call me and ask me about what they were seeing before they clicked the OK button on the dialog box. It’s a good thing they did. We were able to bypass the dialog box and save their PC and data.

In the end, you need to be mindful of the following:

  • The name of your malware scanner
  • That program’s name will appear in the title bar of any dialog box that displays on your computer.
  • Malware warning dialogs that come from your web browser can usually be considered as suspected, malware.
  • When in doubt, click the “X” button that closes the dialog.
  • Do NOT dismiss the dialog by using the OK or Cancel buttons on it.

Keep yourself safe. Become familiar with your malware scanner, allow it to update itself; and MOST of all, schedule regular scans, regardless of the time of day that they want to run. Better to suffer through a bit of performance lag than to lose all your data AND your PC.

If you want to download free antivirus and anti-spyware security software for Windows, pick one below…

Avast | AVG Antivirus | Microsoft Security Essentials

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