Tag: Spyware

Blogs used to infect PCs with spyware and malware

I note a story on the BBC Technology site which says Spyware and Malware authors have copped on to the popularity of blogs and are now using them as vectors to host spyware and malware to infect people lured to the blog.

I’m surprised it took so long for them to come up with this.

Of course I can be smug – I use a Mac so I don’t have to worry about Spyware and Malware!

Who writes Spyware and why

I read a very interesting article on Livejournal by Franklin on how, when his partners PC was infected by Spyware, he tracked down who was making money from the Spyware and reached some very interesting conclusions about who is distributing Spyware and why.

One of the interesting aspects of the article, for me, is when he said “A couple nights ago, Shelly’s computer became infected. Shelly’s technically savvy, the apartment we live in is on a closed private network with a hardware firewall between us and the Internet, and she also runs a software firewall on her computer, and she still became infected nonetheless”.

To my mind, this backs up what I said in my earlier post on Spyware, the only way to stay safe from Spyware and Malware is not to use Internet Explorer or Windows.

This isn’t an anti-MS rant, I’m actually pretty agnostic when it comes to OSes normally and work easily on whatever platform I am presented with, but it now seems obvious (esp. for home users) that this is the only route which will work.

How to rid a PC of viruses and malware

My parents have asked me to look at their neighbours PC – it has started ‘acting funny’ and “they think it might have a virus”, I was told.

“Uh oh”, I thought. Here we go again. If you are the local IT guru you know this feeling well. And, is it just me or is it becoming more frequent?

I have developed a routine for dealing with these PC’s now – inevitably the “it may have a virus” turns out to be 10’s if not 100’s of viruses, trojans, worms and spyware all combining together to grind the PC to a halt. So, what I do, is to re-install the OS – more often recently it is XP, turn off System Restore, install XP SP2, Microsoft Anti Spyware, Spybot, Adaware, and AVG.

The reason for disabling System Restore is that many of the more recent Viruses, etc. hide in the System Restore volume so that they are restored after a scan is run and are impossible to delete while System Restore is running.

Once all the above software is installed and has scanned and cleaned the PC, then, and only then, connect the PC to the Internet and do a Windows Update updating the PC with all available updates. Finally, connect to and install Trend Micro’s Housecall online Anti Virus scanner . Run this scan on the PC, disconnect from the Internet and scan once more with all the previous tools ensuring all scans come up clean again. If they don’t keep repeating until they do or consider formatting the PC.

Be sure to set the Windows Updates to update automatically through the Security Center (sic).

Install Firefox and Thunderbird and set them to be the default browser and default mail client respectively. removing desktop shortcuts for Internet Explorer.

Finally, on returning the PC, you need to inform the owner of all the changes that have been made to the PC and be sure to let him/her know that these measures will only keep the PC secure for 6-9 months maximum.

It is at this point that you need to tell them that if they want to stay uninfected going forward, they’d be far better off getting a Mac!

Security center could not change your automatic updates settings

I was working on a friends PC the other day. It had Windows XP Home on it and several viruses! After cleaning out the viruses, I updated the PC to XP SP 2 to get the security advantages that the service pack confers.

However, on re-starting the PC after the install, the Security Centre gave a warning that Automatic Updates were not turned on. On attempting to turn it on from the Security Centre, I got the error message “The security center could not change your automatic updates settings”.

I tried changing the Automatic Update settings through the Control Panel but according to the Control Panel, the Updates were turned on! However, every time I re-started or logged in again, I got the warning “Your computer may be at risk”.


I did a Google search on this error and found a resolution on Google Groups – after registering the dlls in this thread, I closed and re-opened the Security Centre and the Automatic Updates showed as being on.