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How did I get infected?


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#1 Grinler

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 12:45 PM

One of the most common questions found when cleaning malware is "how did my machine get infected?". There are a variety of reasons, but the most common ones are that you are not practicing Safe Internet, you are not running the proper security software or that your computer's security settings are set too low.

Below I have outlined a series of categories that outline how you can increase the security of your computer to help reduce the chance of being infected again in the future.

Do not use P2P programs
Peer-to-peer or file-sharing programs (such as uTorrent, Limewire and Bitorrent) are probably the primary route of infection nowadays. These programs allow file sharing between users as the name(s) suggest. It is almost impossible to know whether the file you’re downloading through P2P programs is safe.

It is therefore possible to be infected by downloading infected files via peer-to-peer programs and so I recommend that you do not use these programs. Should you wish to use them, they must be used with extreme care. Some further reading on this subject, along with included links, are as follows: "File-Sharing, otherwise known as Peer To Peer" and "Risks of File-Sharing Technology."

In addition, P2P programs facilitate cyber crime and help distribute pirated software, movies and other illegal material.

Practice Safe Internet
Another one of the main reasons people get infected in the first place is that they are not practicing Safe Internet. You practice Safe Internet when you educate yourself on how to properly use the Internet through the use of security tools and good practice. Knowing how you can get infected and what types of files and sites to avoid will be the most crucial step in keeping your computer malware free. The reality is that the majority of people who are infected with malware are ones who click on things they shouldn't be clicking on. Whether these things are files or sites it doesn't really matter. If something is out to get you, and you click on it, it most likely will.

Below are a list of simple precautions to take to keep your computer clean and running securely:
  • If you receive an attachment from someone you do not know, DO NOT OPEN IT! Simple as that. Opening attachments from people you do not know is a very common method for viruses or worms to infect your computer.
  • If you receive an attachment and it ends with a .exe, .com, .bat, or .pif do not open the attachment unless you know for a fact that it is clean. For the casual computer user, you will almost never receive a valid attachment of this type.
  • If you receive an attachment from someone you know, and it looks suspicious, then it probably is. The email could be from someone you know who is themselves infected with malware which is trying to infect everyone in their address book. A key thing to look out for here is: does the email sound as though it’s from the person you know? Often, the email may simply have a web link or a “Run this file to make your PC run fast” message in it.
  • If you are browsing the Internet and a popup appears saying that you are infected, ignore it!. These are, as far as I am concerned, scams that are being used to scare you into purchasing a piece of software. For an example of these types of pop-ups, or Foistware, you should read this article: Foistware, And how to avoid it.
    There are also programs that disguise themselves as Anti-Spyware or security products but are instead scams. Removal instructions for a lot of these "rogues" can be found here.
  • Another tactic to fool you on the web is when a site displays a popup that looks like a normal Windows message or alert. When you click on them, though, they instead bring you to another site that is trying to push a product on you, or will download a file to your PC without your knowledge. You can check to see if it's a real alert by right-clicking on the window. If there is a menu that comes up saying Add to Favorites... you know it's a fake. DO NOT click on these windows, instead close them by finding the open window on your http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taskbar#Screenshots '>Taskbar, right click and chose close.
  • Do not visit pornographic websites. I know this may bother some of you, but the fact is that a large amount of malware is pushed through these types of sites. I am not saying all adult sites do this, but a lot do, as this can often form part of their funding.
  • When using an Instant Messaging program be cautious about clicking on links people send to you. It is not uncommon for infections to send a message to everyone in the infected person's contact list that contains a link to an infection. Instead when you receive a message that contains a link you should message back to the person asking if it is legit.
  • Stay away from Warez and Crack sites! As with Peer-2-Peer programs, in addition to the obvious copyright issues, the downloads from these sites are typically overrun with infections.
  • Be careful of what you download off of web sites and Peer-2-Peer networks. Some sites disguise malware as legitimate software to trick you into installing them and Peer-2-Peer networks are crawling with it. If you want to download files from a site, and are not sure if they are legitimate, you can use tools such as BitDefender Traffic Light, Norton Safe Web, or McAfee SiteAdvisor to look up info on the site and stay protected against malicious sites. Please be sure to only choose and install one of those tool bars.
  • DO NOT INSTALL any software without first reading the End User License Agreement, otherwise known as the EULA. A tactic that some developers use is to offer their software for free, but have spyware and other programs you do not want bundled with it. This is where they make their money. By reading the agreement there is a good chance you can spot this and not install the software.
    Sometimes even legitimate programs will try to bundle extra, unwanted, software with the program you want - this is done to raise money for the program. Be sure to untick any boxes which may indicate that other programs will be downloaded.

Keep Windows up-to-date
Microsoft continually releases security and stability updates for its supported operating systems and you should always apply these to help keep your PC secure.

  • Windows XP users
    You should visit Windows Update to check for the latest updates to your system. The latest service pack (SP3) can be obtained directly from Microsoft here.
  • Windows Vista users
    You should run the Windows Update program from your start menu to access the latest updates to your operating system (information can be found here). The latest service pack (SP2) can be obtained directly from Microsoft here.
  • Windows 7 users
    You should run the Windows Update program from your start menu to access the latest updates to your operating system (information can be found here). The latest service pack (SP1) can be obtained directly from Microsoft here


Keep your browser secure
Most modern browsers have come on in leaps and bounds with their inbuilt, default security. The best way to keep your browser secure nowadays is simply to keep it up-to-date.

The latest versions of the three common browsers can be found below:

Use an AntiVirus Software
It is very important that your computer has an up-to-date anti-virus software on it which has a real-time agent running. This alone can save you a lot of trouble with malware in the future.
See this link for a listing of some online & their stand-alone antivirus programs: Virus, Spyware, and Malware Protection and Removal Resources, a couple of free Anti-Virus programs you may be interested in are Microsoft Security Essentials and Avast.

It is imperative that you update your Antivirus software at least once a week (even more if you wish). If you do not update your antivirus software then it will not be able to catch any of the new variants that may come out. If you use a commercial antivirus program you must make sure you keep renewing your subscription. Otherwise, once your subscription runs out, you may not be able to update the programs virus definitions.

Use a Firewall
I can not stress how important it is that you use a Firewall on your computer. Without a firewall your computer is susceptible to being hacked and taken over. Simply using a Firewall in its default configuration can lower your risk greatly.

All versions of Windows starting from XP have an in-built firewall. With Windows XP this firewall will protect you from incoming traffic (i.e. hackers). Starting with Windows Vista, the firewall was beefed up to also protect you against outgoing traffic (i.e. malicious programs installed on your machine should be blocked from sending data, such as your bank details and passwords, out).

In addition, if you connect to the internet via a router, this will normally have a firewall in-built.

Some people will recommend installing a different firewall (instead of the Windows’ built one), this is personal choice, but the message is to definitely have one! For a tutorial on Firewalls and a listing of some available ones see this link: Understanding and Using Firewalls

Install an Anti-Malware program
Recommended, and free, Anti-Malware programs are Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and SuperAntiSpyware.

You should regularly (perhaps once a week) scan your computer with an Anti-Malware program just as you would with an antivirus software.

Make sure your applications have all of their updates
It is also possible for other programs on your computer to have security vulnerability that can allow malware to infect you. Therefore, it is very important to check for the latest versions of commonly installed applications that are regularly patched to fix vulnerabilities (such as Adobe Reader and Java). You can check these by visiting Secunia Software Inspector.

Follow this list and your potential for being infected again will reduce dramatically.

Edited by elise025, 22 November 2011 - 03:56 PM.
Updated


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#2 sopcannon

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 09:10 PM

ok not knowcking the suggestions but wont that slow down the performance of many pc`s and/or slow down internet ?

#3 Animal

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 11:14 PM

So what do you see specifically in the above recommendations that would lead you to think, "wont that slow down the performance of many pc`s and/or slow down internet ?

Then maybe we can address your specific concerns as to the cause of why you may think that.

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.
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#4 Animal

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 03:01 PM

Email me if you have any questions, will be glad to answer.

Thank You for your consideration. However we would prefer that all questions be asked in the forums, not privately via email. That way everyone benefits from the information provided. That is the whole purpose of the forums in the first place, after all.

Animal,
Forum Moderator

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#5 marsha123

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 01:57 AM

I read the suggestions for protecting my computer. I have my ISP providing Anti-Virus, Anti-spyware, popup blocker & firewall. I still get viruses. I don't know what the problem is. Could it be the programs I have that might allow viruses in like you said in your description? I am ready to quit this security system because it doesn't work. I have had 4 viruses since February. What should I do? I had the security tell me I had a virus (and it named it). I closed the box and ran a virus scan which produced nothing. I called my ISP and they said that when the box came up, the security disinfected it. What happens when I run a scan & the infected file is essential--I'm in big trouble then. I can't go on like this. Any suggetions? One lady said they should reinstall the security. Would that help?

#6 auntna

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 08:29 PM

ok not knowcking the suggestions but wont that slow down the performance of many pc`s and/or slow down internet ?


yes in fact these will slow down your PC , apps such as spyware bot installs a real time scanner called teatimer and SD resident which run in the background, also your virus scanner and firewall will slow down your PC, but you know what, its better to have a 15% slower PC then to be at a risk of infection.
There are some things that will really slow down your PC such as the new adaware 2007 adwatch, that will take a good chunk of your resource and really slow things down so i would not suggest that at all, maybe run the app itself to find any spyware or MRU's cookies etc.
also i recommend for everyone to have at least 2MB of ram, that will help you a great deal ;)
Email me if you have any questions, will be glad to answer.

much luck :thumbsup:


I too have found that having all these programs installed really slowed down the internet surfing on my 80 GB - 512 MB Ram computer on dial-up. My solution was that since I have the Enterra Download Manager add on for IE I just uninstalled everything except my Sygate Personal Firewall and AVG Free. The Manager stores the other programs for me until I want to run a scan. I just reinstall for that purpose and then uninstall again. The Manager is helpful because you don't have to go through the, sometimes, hours of downloading the program from the internet again.

I suppose that you can probably save these programs to a disk also? I don't currently have a burner so the Download Manager is what I use.


#7 LionsMike

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 01:40 AM

I read the suggestions for protecting my computer. I have my ISP providing Anti-Virus, Anti-spyware, popup blocker & firewall. I still get viruses. I don't know what the problem is. Could it be the programs I have that might allow viruses in like you said in your description? I am ready to quit this security system because it doesn't work. I have had 4 viruses since February. What should I do? I had the security tell me I had a virus (and it named it). I closed the box and ran a virus scan which produced nothing. I called my ISP and they said that when the box came up, the security disinfected it. What happens when I run a scan & the infected file is essential--I'm in big trouble then. I can't go on like this. Any suggetions? One lady said they should reinstall the security. Would that help?


WOW HERE WE GO MARSHA
I used to hear this all the time when I moderated the AntiVirus chats on AOL.

Your ISP provides you programs that you can download and install in your computer for FREE. they do not protect you through your internet connection. Most do scan E-mails for known malicious attachments and block them. That is not anywhere near good enough. If you get an infection in the first few days that it is circulating , your only hope is to catch it with updated definitions when you run your Antivirus scan this week or next week. You only want one AV program installed and running. AdWare and SpyWare are just not going to be effectivley caotured by your ISP YOU MUST INSTALL UPDATE AND RUN THOSE PROGRAMS AS WELL AS YOUR AntuVirus program Once a week is good, More often is better. I have worked with people who thought that they were safe and wondered why their computer ran so slow. They had 450 spyware programs (95 of them activley sending out information at the time) on their computer. there were over 100 Adware programs on that machine also. You can install several Anti-SpyWare and Anti-AdWare programs just don't run scans with them at the same time.

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#8 hennessy

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 02:02 PM

hey guys i know im terribly stupid, ima just stop downloading crap.

aight hers my problem, i went to this site speedyshare. it was a green site according to mcaffe site advisor, but when i downloaded the program, it came to be a virus, i have now antivira antivirus, and it picked the virus up, and i clicked delete, are there any chances that im still infected??


{Mod Edit:Removed dangerous link~~boopme}

Edited by boopme, 24 December 2007 - 10:28 PM.


#9 LionsMike

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 09:23 PM

I am not one of the staff or Moderators, I probably have no bussiness sending you a reply, But you directed a message to me, and it is Christmas Eve. I can tell you that the way this help site works it is better to not have many replies on record. A reply may indicate to members of the staff that you are being helped by one of the staff.

I consider myself to be pretty good at malware. I ran the malware help site on AOL on Friday nights. I came here for a problem that I could not take care of myself. This group will help you with detailed instructions and links to tools which wiill determine what if any infections or results of infections you have. People remove a virus and think that the issue is resolved, but very often the virus has caused some damage which needs to be adressed. These people will help you address such problems.

Be patient; they are volunteers. You will communicate via E-mail with links to answers and to more questions with instructions. Take their advice and follow their instructions, and when you are finished you will have learned some new tricks you will be happy with your computer.

GOOD LUCK and MERRY CHRISTMAS

Old Fart with history in Vacume Tube computers


#10 Eyesee

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 10:15 PM

Hennessy

Yep. There is still a very good chance that you are still infected
I recommend that you start your own thread so that we can all look at and adress your issues without getting confused with anyone else's post

And Merry Christmas too!
There are still plenty of people here, willing to address you issue
Even on Christma eve!
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#11 ruby1

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 07:43 AM

Below I have outlined a series of categories that outline how you can increase the security of your computer so that you will not be infected again in the future.

[*] Another tactic to fool you on the web is when a site displays a popup that looks like a normal Windows message or alert. When you click on them, though, they instead bring you to another site that is trying to push a product on you. We suggest that you close these windows by clicking on the X instead of the OK button.
Alternatively, you can check to see if it's a real alert by right-clicking on the window. If there is a menu that comes up saying Add to Favorites... you know it's a fake.


due to the habit of nasties hiding IN those X's, is it not now considered as unsafe practice to close the window via the X ; but rather to go to task manager and close the window via that route?

am I also correct in assuming that if one has a hardware firewall , then a software firewall is NOT necessarily needed or required?

#12 Animal

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 02:41 PM

am I also correct in assuming that if one has a hardware firewall , then a software firewall is NOT necessarily needed or required?

http://blogs.chron.com/helpline/archives/networking/
Third post down "Hardware vs. software firewall" the reply captures my feelings exactly. I'm not saying it's correct. Just my personal perception.

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#13 boopme

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 10:23 PM

I am in agreement with One software firewall behind my Router. I feel thar is the most secure.
How do I get help? Who is helping me?
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#14 Nevi

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 09:49 AM

Hi guys..
I would like to get an opinion from you.I use Kaspersky KIS 7 1.321,and I feel Iīm well protected.But its Spyware I think about.At the moment I have installed BO clean,as I think its a great AS app.but is it really necesarry when I use KIS?I also have Superantispyw.free ed. to on demand scans,but it never find anything.I keep it tho,I think the consensus is,that its one of the best to catch AS if it has gone into the machine.
I know the opinions about this subject is very different,but maybe some of you real oldtimers that have tried most off what there is?
Thanks in advance for the help. :thumbsup:

Edited by Nevi, 20 January 2008 - 09:52 AM.

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#15 ruby1

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 10:32 AM

any comments about the possible unsafe practice of closing the 'nasty' windows via the X, which may 'hide' a 'malicious intent' :thumbsup:




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