Jun 09


I’ve said it before in this blog, I’m a Mac/Apple user.  But I’m also pretty familiar with Windows and PCs.  If you’re a Mac User, this post isn’t for you, but you should still read it.  It’ll make you a look like a genius when one of your PC using friends has a problem. Anyway — on to the topic.

We’ve all done it at one time or another.  Something pops up on a browser screen or you get a link in your email that says sometime like “Your computer is running slow.  Click here to fix”.  So, you click on the link.  The next thing you know, all kinds of screens are popping up in your browser, they want you to buy something so that you can “fix” your PC.  Well, you’re not really interested in buying that software so you close all the windows.  Maybe you’re done for the day and you shut down your PC and go and do something else.

The next day you fire up your PC and something seems different.  Maybe it’s running really slow — that usually the first sign.  Then assorted windows start showing up asking you to log in to something to activate the software that you didn’t want to buy.  You sit there, scratch your head, close all those windows and go about your merry way.

But what you don’t know is that yesterday, when you clicked on that link, you got yourself a virus — a nasty bug that can make your life miserable.  In fact, it could possibly record every keystroke you make and send it off to some server somewhere else where some bad guy sells all your passwords and credit card and banking information to some thief.  Your identity gets stolen and who knows how long it takes to get things resolved.  All this from an innocent mouse click.

The best advice I can give you is DON’T EVER CLICK ON A LINK THAT ISN’T FROM A TRUSTED SOURCE.  And if you get an email that looks like it’s from your bank or credit card company wanting you to click on a link to check something DON’T.  Go to the bank or credit card website and enter your information there.  Chances are you’re being “Phished” — a technique that tries to get you to enter you username and password into an official looking site that’s really a link to the identity thieves.  Don’t ever  enter your User ID or passwords into anything other than a site that YOU navigated to.

OK– enough of the warnings. Assuming that you heed these warnings it won’t happen again.  But how can you fix what you did to your computer.  First and foremost, run virus and malware software that constantly monitors what’s being fed into your computer. I like Microsoft Security Essentials (http://tinyurl.com/bggzsek) — it’s free and it works well.  Just have it scan regularly and have it running in the background and it’ll do it’s job.  Yes, there’s a multitude of virus protection software like Norton (bloated), McAfee and others.  But there’s no reason to pay a fee or subscription when there’s some really good free software out there.  If you’re running Windows 8, Microsoft Security Essentials is part of the operating system — its called “Windows Defender

In addition, there’s two pieces of software that I regularly use to “clean up” PC’s that have gotten infected. Both are free for personal use and can be upgraded if you like, but I’ve been pretty satisfied with the free versions.

The first is Glary Utilities (http://tinyurl.com/cjnzsbx). This will do some wonders for your hard drive.  It’ll get rid of missing links, clean out your registry, remove temporary files and a whole host of other “cleansing” things.  Run it monthly and keep your PC running at optimum performance.

Next, for Malware I recommend Malwarebytes (http://tinyurl.com/d5jtuz).  This great piece of software will root out that malware that that those links put on your computer. I’d run a quick scan once a week and a complete scan once a month.

Use these three basic, free virus and malware pieces of software on your PC, don’t click those pop up links and stay aware of Phishing emails and you can do a lot to protect your identity and keep your computer running smoothly!

Be sure to share this if you think it’s worthwhile. And please… if you have any better ideas or newer software that works for you please let me know via the comments.


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  1. Mike

    Good points Marty, thanks. The key of course is to be pro-active and do something, anything, and you’ll stay ahead of the curve. For many years I used Norton at a time when it fought your computer for resources. With today’s more powerful machines and gobs of memory it’s no longer an issue. While it’s still highly rated, I also do not think it’s necessary to be paying for it. I became a fan of “free” a while back with AVG, and Avast. For years now, Microsoft Security Essentials is my favorite. It’s well integrated to Windows as you’d expect and you really never know it’s there doing its job. While I don’t care for McAfee, I do use the Siteadvisor in Firefox and it may well stop you dead in your tracks from the type of hijackingas you described with a window like this:

    Here’s a rather thorough roundup from PC Magazine, a publication I felt over the years pandered to its advertisers. Unless I missed it MSE is noticeably absent, yet worth reading.

  2. Marty Silbernik

    Thanks for those links, Mike. I’m going to take a look at them and check out SiteAdvisor for Firefox. As far as MSE not being in the list, I suspect because it doesn’t work with Windows 8.

    Regardless, for someone who’s not technically savvy and wants to get protection that works without having to think about it, MSE and Windows Defender fit the bill… as long as they’re a bit more vigilant with Malware and such.

  3. Mike

    Here’s another two Microsoft freebies worth looking at:

    Microsoft offers a free tool that will help diagnose and fix Windows security settings, so you don’t have to think about it.

    The Microsoft Safety Scanner is a free downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps remove viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It works with your existing antivirus software.

  4. Harriett

    I love what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever
    work and reporting! Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve included you guys to my personal blogroll.


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