Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snared

I was horrified to find a virus on my PC this morning. It’s called W32.Blackmal and my Norton Anti-virus programme picked it up automatically. The worry though is whether it found its way onto my hard disk before the automatic update that ran this morning.

Looking up the virus payload on the internet, I see that it attempts to delete one’s security settings in Windows and disable the resident anti-virus program, so that it can harvest one’s address book and then use it to send out more copies of itself to anyone in it. The worrying sign is that my Norton anti-virus program is ‘hanging’ when I try and scan.

Internet security is of course one of the things I do and being caught-out is almost unheard of. This is probably a lesson to all of us using a home computer, in this case a ‘shared’ wireless laptop. Particularly where children are concerned, there are dummy sites out there that have been deliberately set-up to lure them into a visit, normally via an innocent search for a favourite programme or character across Google, Yahoo or some other engine. What happens then is that the virus may be attached to an image, which when viewed with low security settings or an out of date anti-virus programme, will neatly drop the virus payload onto the visiting Personal Computer.

This is a simplified explanation but remember, that your security is only as good as your last security update and even then, if you leave settings, such as ActiveX controls turned on, there’s always a risk of catching something nasty. It could be a simple irritation or it could be one of the new generation of ‘blended’ threats, that actively seeks to steal anything that looks like personal or financial information from your PC, bank account log-in scripts and so on, which are then quite possibly emailed to Yuri and his mates, somewhere between Estonia and Petroplavosk.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad I've only ever owned Macs, then!

Anonymous said...

anon again!
I too, own Mac computers also M$ Windows PC's.
Norton is not the best security/virus checker though.
I don't like to advertise, but will make the reccomendation only.
www.grisoft.com , then download the FREE AVG daily check on to your Wondows PC's. Unfortunately, this does not work on Macintosh computers for FREE(these are quite virus safe though), but you can pay and use a slightly different download for your Mac.
I prefer Apple Macintosh computers, their design is individual (not your sort of boring tower under the desk, more a work of art)and the OS is just as easy to use as the Windows one.

Big Mac Enthusiast said...

Here here anon again! Macs rule!

I also use Norton but I have to say it's pretty hopeless for Macs, but then Macs are pretty immune anyway.

Nethercourt said...

I live behind Zone Alarm Pro and AVG free.
I also have the MS Beta anti spyware running along with spyware blaster, spybot SD and A2. All seem to co-habit quite happily and (touch wood) I've never been infected. Either that or I'm so fouled up that everything's cancelling it'self out!!!
The main defense is not just to have the stuff installed, but to UPDATE and USE IT!

Nethercourt said...

Oh and the other 'must have' is Mailwasher...lets you see your mails without downloading them.... If your not expecting a mail...DON'T OPEN IT!!

Anonymous said...

To all virus programme changers
It is VITAL that you remove any previous virus scanning progs BEFORE installing the new programme
preferably using add/remove in control panel.If you dont your machine will start behaving badly.
I concur the best virus programme software about (free or not) is AVG
set it to automatic update


Steve Kilbee

Anonymous said...

anon again!
Totally agree, though totally UNINSTALLING Norton is a pain,
and should be done on a day when you have NOTHING else to do!

Installing AVG takes minutes on broadband. "dial up", relatively longer.

Anonymous said...

anon again!

While we are on the subject of computers etc. Please be very careful in choosing your internet provider.
We use www.pipex.com , it has only crashed twice in 2 years. Rather LESS than for instance AOL/BT/tiscali according to reports. It is a little dearer than the other systems, but, you can certainly depend on it being there 99.99% of the time. (which aint bad). We have not encountered any problems with using Mac on it,(AOL is not Mac compatible), and have tried, successfully and without problem, running PC and Mac computers together through a 'netgear' wireless router.

James Maskell said...

My computer completely crashed when I changed from Norton to Avast because I didnt remove Norton first. I assumed there wouldnt be any problems. My bad...

DrMoores said...

I'm somewhat of an expert in removing Norton anti virus, I've done it so many times and I can tell you its; that it's a huge headache for support people. One Microsoft person told me unofficially that their favourite is AVG, so I'm inclined to recommend it as theone least likely to srcrew up your system. When Norton does fallover, it will frequently take the PC with it, in my experience! - I have FSecure's AV product on the helf which they have kindly sent me to try out.

Andy Pandy said...

Over the last couple of years I've installed AVG and zonealarm on several computers and (touch wood) I've never encountered any problems yet. I also try and use web based email accounts whenever possible.

P C Illiterate said...

As a beginner with a PC at home, I find all this talk of viruses very alarming and I'm hoping my Norton package will keep me safe.

I don't know what happened to this site earlier today around midday but typing in www.thanetlife.com sent me off to a site advising me how to set up web sites.

Anything to do with your virus problem Dr. Moores?

Anonymous said...

anon again!

It's always good to keep up to date with new technology. Never be afraid to ask someone who knows something you might not know. Most are willing to oblige, if they can.
Soon, according to the signboards near tesco, we are to have a PC World in Thanet (July is hoped for), and they have the doctor room for quick not too expensive service. Still, a computer is only as good as its operator. There are loads of classes for all ages. The kids get it taught in school, so why not adults too.

Anonymous said...

There are classes being run by East Kent ITec from Victoria Road Margate I believe some are indeed free subject to circumstances


Steve Kilbee

Anonymous said...

Link for above
http://www.ekitec.freeserve.co.uk/

Steve Kilbee

P C Illiterate said...

Many thanks, Steve!

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon,
I am pleased to see there are some Mac users in Thanet apart from me, who is always telling you to get a Mac.
It might be useful for you to explain how to get rid of Norton AV on a PC, MT has one with Norton on it and it is a pain, I find it useful to learn (and cuss) about XP O.S.
HAve a good week,
Barrie.