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PC Security

All about Virus, Anti-virus and Anti-Spyware

All about Virus

A virus would be a program code which is meant to wreck havoc on the host system. A virus tends to replicate itself and spread to different sections of your computer. Viruses are classified based on what they affect or infect. Here are some of the categories:

  • Boot sector viruses: This virus affects the boot sector of usually a floppy disk, but in some cases of a system’s hard disk. When you try to boot you system from an infected floppy disk, this virus loads even before your Operating system can. But thankfully in this day and age as we move away from floppy disks to CDs, we come across such viruses very rarely.
  • Companion viruses: In thistype of virus, the program code doesn’t reside in the host program but in another file often referred to as the ‘companion’ file. This virus tends to rename your standard “abc.EXE” into say “abc.EXD” file and comes up with its own version of “abc.EXE” containing the virus code. So when you run your exe file, the virus code runs first. The virus then tends to spread and do what it needs to do before handing over control to the original file which now runs normally. It is very difficult to detect such happenings.
  • E-mail viruses: These are often referred to as e-mail worms. Worms are like viruses but here the program code is such that they tend to replicate and look for a way to spread to other computers. E-mail viruses as the name suggests, tend to spread via e-mail. These viruses often copy themselves by automatically mailing copies to hundreds of people from the address book.
  • Logic bombs and time bombs: These viruses tend to lie dormant in your system until certain specific conditions are met. When these conditions are met, the virus gets activated and tends to do what it is designed to do like deleting files or printing out messages. A time bomb is a virus which is set to trigger off on a particular date and/or time.

How to spot a virus:

If you see any activity on your system that you can’t account for, your system probably has been affected by a virus. Here are some of the signs to look for:

  • If your system seems to be running really slow without having made any major changes to it. Make sure you haven’t added any new software that may be causing this problem.
  • If you see that your system seems to be hanging up i.e. stops responding often.
  • If you face problems repeatedly while booting your system.
  • If you find things out of order like files missing from a location that you stored them in or the file size seems to be alarmingly different.

Effects of a Virus in your system:

We all know by now that viruses are meant to cause trouble by either reformatting your hard-disk or deleting your files or messing around with your programs. But all viruses are not this malicious. Some viruses are meant only to replicate themselves and are not programmed to cause damage. In order to replicate they tend to attach themselves to executable parts of programs. So if run you an infected program, the virus code will run first.

But these viruses though not vicious, tend to eat into your hard disk space. You sense the presence of these viruses only when you notice some erratic behavior from your system sometimes leading to your system crashing.

If you are experiencing any of the above problems, it’s time to get your Anti-virus software up and running, scanning your system for those pesky viruses.

  The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

All about Anti-virus

The way you use your computer will determine your vulnerability to a virus attack. Read our segments on Good browsing Habits and How do I secure my PC to safeguard yourself.

With all the precautions that you take, you still need an Anti-Virus software to prevent a virus attack and also to get rid of some of those pesky viruses that might have wormed their way into your system. You can find an anti-virus software to suit your requirements easily at your local computer store or even on the internet. If you are new to this, remember always to stick to the widely used, popular brands available in the market like Norton Anti-virus or McAfee.

Anti-virus programs are efficient in allowing you to scan your computer and identify any virus that may be present in your system. They also provide regular updates to protect you from any new virus that may have surfaced. They can also scan your e-mails and sniff out any viruses before you download anything onto your system. Present day anti-virus programs come integrated with a firewall, a spam and pop-up blocker. Some programs also include Spy-ware blockers. Spyware are software that can watch and keep track of your pc and internet usage.

Installing your Anti-Virus Software:

Now that you have acquired your software, let’s go about installing it into your system.
Before you run the installation:

  • Close all other programs running on your system.
  • Create a back up of your files on a CD or another hard disk.
  • Uninstall any existing older anti-virus programs using the Add or Remove Programs option in your control panel.
  • If you have downloaded your software from the internet, run the installed program. If you have a CD, run the CD on your system. The installation process loads automatically. Follow through with the wizard on the installation process and register. Make sure that:

  • You specify the drive/folder where you want your software to be installed.
  • The anti-virus software should start when the computer boots.
  • The anti-virus software should scan any removable media like floppy disks or CDs before the computer shuts down.
  • The anti-virus software should look for viruses in all types of files.
  • The anti-virus software regularly scans your entire computer for viruses.

You might have to reboot your system once the installation is complete. Most anti-viruses ask you to create a Rescue Disk. Go ahead and create one on a floppy disk and use it when you run into boot issues caused by a virus.

Remember, just installing your anti-virus software doesn’t ensure complete safety for your computer. You must scan your system periodically. Scanning your entire hard drive could take a really long time depending on the speed of your computer and the size of your files and hard disk space.

You can schedule your anti-virus to scan your computer every week when you are not working . Read our segment on How to schedule Windows to perform tasks Automatically. You must also update your software from time to time and install the latest security patches from the internet.

 The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

Updating your Anti-virus

Once you have your anti-virus software installed, you can’t afford to let your guard down and expect the software to keep you protected. New viruses show up every day and some of them manage to find their way around your anti-virus. This is why it becomes absolutely mandatory to keep your anti-virus updated about all the new viruses so that your anti-virus software can manage to keep them at bay.

Most anti-virus software will let you schedule updates. Make sure that you enable automatic update option in your system. On the specified day and time your anti-virus will connect to the internet and update itself. So remember to keep your system on at that time.

Automatic Updates can be set up in any of these three modes:

  • Notify only – here you get notified of any new patches that are available. You have to then go and download them before you install.
  • Download and notify – here any new patch available gets downloaded and they you get notified to install it. Saves you the downloading time.
  • Full Automatic – here your anti-virus update software downloads and installs all patches it considers crucial.

On the other hand if you are familiar with the whole setup, you can go ahead and download your patches without having to use Automatic updates.

To make your computer more secure, you need to make sure that you install security patches from time to time. A security patch is a fix for any loopholes that may be present in your software. These patches help reduce your risks of virus attacks. You can find security patches for your software from the manufacturer’s website. Any alert for an important patch detected by an automatic update will show up on your system tray.

You can install any of the security patches from the Automatic updates dialog box that opens up when you click on the icon in the system tray. Make sure you shut off all other programs before you install your security patch and reboot your system once you have finished installing.

  The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

How Anti-virus protects your computer while you are on the Internet

The internet is the breeding ground for most viruses. Your system is susceptible to virus attacks when you are browsing. This is where your Anti-virus software comes in.

  • The anti-virus scans all your e-mails and sends out an alert every time it detects a virus before you download or save any files onto your computer. Watch out for spam mail. Some of them might have a virus on them. It is always advisable to have your anti-virus re-scan any message you think might contain a virus.
  • If you are using e-mail softwares like Outlook Express, most anti-virus softwares tend to scan even the outbound mail before it gets sent. If you use a web-based e-mail program, your ISP tends to scan your outbound mail automatically.

Most anti-virus software tend to detect a virus and remove it immediately. But sometimes if your anti-virus software detects a virus but is not able to fix it, it will remove the infected file either by deleting it or by placing it in quarantine so that the virus present in it does not hurt your system. Quarantine is nothing but a subdirectory created by your anti-virus to park your infected file out of contact from the rest of your system.

Sometimes, only when you run a scan through you system you realize that you have a virus which has managed to sneak past your anti-virus software. You can then make a note of the name of the virus and run a search on your anti-virus software’s website. Look for specific activity of the virus and see how you can remove it. Your anti-virus software’s website might even suggest a specific tool to remove that particular virus. The website may also have information on the damage the virus is known to cause and what you need to do for damage control.

Damage Control:

  • Depending on the virus you may have to download and run repair programs as suggested by your anti-virus software website.
  • Some viruses tend to uninstall or remove certain files from your Operating System. Your anti-virus software website might suggest where to look for these files and re-install them.
  • Some viruses affect certain software. You may have to re-install the software if it is damaged beyond repair.

Remember:  Keep all the documentation that comes with your software like the license key number safe. You never know when you might need it again.

  • If you have picked up a boot sector virus and are unable to boot your system, you may have to boot using the anti-virus software’s rescue disk, created while installing the anti-virus software.
  • If your anti-virus has removed any file infected by a virus it has not been able to fix, you can restore your file only from a back-up if you have any.
  • If the virus has affected the system’s Registry then you may have to manually remove a registry key to fix your problem. The registry is a database of sorts which has all the configuration settings of your Operating System and other programs installed on your system. It is recommended to use professional help to do this since changes to your registry are of a highly sensitive nature and could cause your system to crash.
  • In some extreme cases the virus might have wrecked the Operating System itself. Then you have no other choice but to re-install the OS.

Remember: You could lose all your data when you Re-install your OS.

  The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

What is Ad-ware and why should I worry about it?

Ad-ware is a software that is installed on your computer to automatically play, display, or download advertising material to your computer. Ad-ware study your activity on the internet and start displaying ads on your screen based on the content you are accessing.

Ad-ware tends to slow down your system It also slows down your internet connection by using your bandwidth to retrieve advertisements. The ads that keep popping up tend to interfere with your work since you need to close all those windows before you get back to working on your PC. Some ad-ware can be ruthless enough to install themselves into other applications and hijack your browser to show more ads. Some ad-ware programs tend to monitor and maintain a profile of your browsing habits. This might be of some concern to you.

But you cant write-off all ad-ware. Many useful programs are available for free on the internet thanks to ad-ware. Some ad-ware even allow you to uninstall them from your system easily in the same manner that you would uninstall any other program.

Freeware like computer games, icons you can use to enhance your e-mail, instant news and weather updates all involve ad-ware. When you use these freeware, ad-ware tends to get installed on your system.

When you see that your system has become slow without any reason, run an ad-ware scan and use an ad-ware removal tool to remove the ad-ware from your system.

Also read more on our website on Good Browsing Habits and How to Secure Your PC

The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

What is Active-X?

ActiveX is a technology from Microsoft that enables interactive content for the internet. It is built into the Internet Explorer and allows web sites to run small programs on your computer. It allows you to go to a website and request to automatically install software like media plugins so that you don't have to go and download it yourself.

ActiveX makes work, easy for developers and Web producers to create unique, interactive Web sites that will make the Internet more useful and productive. ActiveX will be supported on multiple operating systems and hence is a very useful tool.

ActiveX controls are small programs or applets and other Microsoft programs like MSOffice and Internet Explorer (IE) are designed to be able to interact with them. The interactive nature of these ActiveX controls makes them a security hazard. A lot of spyware and adware get downloaded as ActiveX controls. So pay attention to what you download and while configuring the ActiveX settings in Internet Explore to safeguard your system.

  The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

How to remove 'hijackers'?

Hijacker is any software that resets your browser's settings to access other sites. Hijackers tend to capture your address and information when you are on the internet.

It is very difficult to figure out if your browser has been hijacked. During a hijack you will not be able to sense any difference in your browser except that it might be slower than usual.

There are different types of Hijackers. For example: Search Hijackers change your search settings. Homepage Hijackers will change your home page to some other site. Error Hijackers will display a new error page when a requested URL is not found. Some of your Browser add-ons (these are software which add enhancements to your webbrowser like an additional tool bar or search box) are considered as browser hijackers as they embed themselves into your system and are often difficult to get rid of.

You need to run a spyware tool or other hijack removal tools like “Hijack this” to remove hijackers. Most of these tools can be downloaded for free on the internet.

Here’s how you can prevent hijacks by disabling scripting. Remember that disabling scripting might prevent you from accessing certain sites.

  • In the Internet Explorer, click on Tools and go to Internet Options.
  • In the Programs tab click on Reset Web Settings button.
  • Also on the Tools menu, click on Internet Options. On the Security tab, click theInternet Web content zone and then click on Custom Level.
  • In the Settings box, scroll down to the Scripting section and select Disable under Active scripting and Scripting of Java applets
  • Click OK and then click OK again.

 The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.

Run a Virus Scan on your Computer

You’ve installed your Anti-Virus software, run regular updates to keep your software updated, scheduled those weekly scans to occur, say every Friday - you've safeguarded yourself. But it is always a good habit to spring an occasional surprise scan on your system to catch those viruses that may have gone unnoticed by your Anti-Virus during a regular scan. Or if you suspect anything going on with your system that you can’t account for, you’d like to run a scan to see for yourself, here’s how.

If you want to run a quick scan on only a particular file or folder, just Right-click on the folder and select the option of scanning with your anti-virus software. If on the other hand you want to scan an entire drive or the entire computer itself:
Remember scanning your entire system is time consuming, so be patient with it.

  • Click on Start and go to All Programs. Open your Anti-virus program.
  • Select the Scan for Viruses option. Select what you want scanned as in your entire computer or just the removable disks or any particular drive or folder, from the list that appears. Click on Scan.
  • Once your anti-virus performs the scan, you will see a summary of the Scan, show up.
  • If your program detects a virus in any file, it is recommended that you put that file under Quarantine. You are doing just what this medical term suggests. You are putting the file away from the rest of your data, to be fixed by the anti-virus.
  • Once you’ve dealt with your virus, click on Finished.

  The content in this segment is provided for use as an information guide only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of SupportMinds for any errors, omissions, or statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages may link. SupportMinds shall in no circumstances be liable for any loss of any kind whatsoever in consequence to the use of contents of this site.