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When the Really Nasty Stuff Gets You

It May Only be a Matter of Time

Malware is really bad stuff, (see this page for more information). Some of the symptoms of malware or Trojan infestation are:

A mysterious and fairly sudden slowdown of your computer.
Pop-up screens and ads when you may not even be using the computer.
You suddenly can't seem to go where you intended to go on the Internet.
Your homepage in Internet Explorer is not what it was just yesterday.

That's far from all the indications since some of the software either hides in your system or lies in wait for you to do something that triggers it, or for a certain date. Anti virus software has been notoriously poor at trapping some of these infections. If you have told your anti virus software or your firewall that it is OK to use a program like Internet Messaging or Internet Explorer then you have really said they can do anything, within reason. In other words you may have bypassed your best defense. In the last 5 years none of the systems we use in our office have been infected with malware unless we did it knowingly. That's not the case with most computers.

There are also the more and more frequent zero-day infections. This is either malware or what's commonly called a virus that is released into the wild, (for example in Asia), at 11 PM on Sunday evening, (your time). Then, with the speed at which communications on the Internet operate today the worst of these infections have traveled to the other side of the world by 8 AM the next morning, and that's slow. The current record for an Internet worm to circle the globe is somewhere under 16 minutes.

The anti virus companies may realize there is a problem caused by that worm by 9 AM. It could be 3 PM that day before they develop a patch (update) for their software. Most stand-alone anti virus software doesn't check every hour or even every day for an update so you could be exposed for anywhere from 6 hours to a day or more. I received 5 infected E-Mail messages one morning in February of 2006. Realizing what they were, from many years of experience, I infected myself intentionally. This was after I realized that none of the anti virus companies had a record of that worm yet. I wanted to see what it would take to solve the problem if I received a call from a customer. (It took 3 hours for me to stop the problem, but I did).

Unfortunately there is no one program you can use that will clean some of these infections from your system. A few of the better malware removers are free but they need to be updated and run regularly. See our resources page for more info.

The best solution to malware problems is to avoid it and the best way to avoid malware is to avoid using Internet Explorer as your default browser.

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