What Is The Best Anti-Virus Program? Common Sense 2011

As many of you know, I have just recently switched from using AVG over to using avast!. The new AVG 2011 made my system sluggish and was bloated so I reluctantly made the switch. I have also advised many times never to rely on any one anti-virus program as your sole line of defense. I personally will use Malwarebytes, Spyware Terminator, or one of the fine online scanners listed below, to periodically scan my system for critters.

What brought this all to mind was a computer I worked on yesterday. It belongs to a relative and they were experiencing reboot problems. The computer was running an older copy of AVG 8.5 that I had installed when they bought the computer. Yesterday I ran Malwarebytes which found 42 viral infection which I placed into the vault. Uninstalled AVG 8.5 and installed avast! version 5, it also found two more bugs.

In addition to the two programs I have mentioned above, I also use online scanners about once a month. I rotate the scanners, never leaving it to any one system to find and eradicate any bugs that my system may pick up. The online scanners I recommend are:

TrendMicro Housecall

Panda ActiveScan

BitDefender QuickScan

F-Secure Online Scanner

There are others available, but I use these four, rotating them through the months. I have not had an infection on any computer I have every used for well over 10 years. The reason is simple. I have a secret weapon and it is the best anti-virus program in the world. It is called Common Sense 2011. :-)

By using my brain I stay away from areas of the Internet that pose a hazard. I never lurk where danger resides and confine myself to reputable Web sites only. I keep my eyes open for anything suspicious, use two separate scanners to warn about rogue sites, and basically confine my searching to where the good guys are. That, my friends, is why it is called Common Sense. The 2011 model will start on January 1st, 2011. It has worked flawlessly in the past and I have no doubt it will do the same in the future.

Comments welcome.

‘Here You Have’ Virus Spreading Like Wildfire

McAfee labs is reporting what is being called the ‘here you have’ or ‘just for you’ virus that  tricks users into believing that there is a .pdf file or sex movie waiting for them. Once the payload is activated, the virus may try to send itself to everyone in your address book. The message being sent to individuals appears like so:

Subject: Here you have or Just For you
Body:

Hello:

This is The Document I told you about,you can find it Here.
http://www.sharedocuments.com/library/PDF_Document21.025542010.pdf

Please check it and reply as soon as possible.

Cheers,

or

Hello:

This is The Free Dowload Sex Movies,you can find it Here.
http://www.sharemovies.com/library/SEX21.025542010.wmv

Enjoy Your Time.

Cheers,

Your best defense is not to open any attachments of links from persons you do not know. Next, you will want to keep your anti-virus program updated with the latest virus definitions.

Notice the misspelling of the word Download.

Be safe.

Comments welcome.

Source – McAfee

What Is The Number 1 Thing You Can Do To Protect Your PC From A Virus Attack?

This morning I stumbled upon an article over at Popular Mechanic about how you can protect your computer from viruses and malware. The advice was fairly standard except there was one sentence that stood out to me and which I thought was the best possible advice the article cited:

Good software and smart users can foil malware threats, but hackers adapt quickly.

What is a ‘smart user’?

Those who take the time to read the articles here at Lockergnome, in my opinion, are all smart users. These people know computers and are light years ahead of the average user.

They know how to protect their computers, by not only using software to protect them, but also to make sure the software is up to date. Though most anti-virus programs will automatically obtain updates, smart users will also do manual updates as well as manual scans of their systems. These smart users will also periodically user other software’s to scan their systems to make sure that their computers are virus and malware free.

But the most important thing that smart users do is to be smart when they surf. They know the pitfalls on the Internet and know that there are hidden dangers lurking behind those innocent looking web sites. Through their experience they know not to open attachments from persons unknown, but also to heed their browser warnings by not clicking on what is flagged as being unsafe.

Sounds fairly simple don’t it. But if it is so simple for those who are smart users, why do so many Internet users become infected?

Comments welcome.

Source – Popular Mechanics

Virus Bulletin – December 2008 – 21 Winners & 2 Losers

I have been using AVG for about 4 years and I have found the software to have provided ample protection. I have also heard others here in this blog and other forums express their preference on using Avast. For those users of Avast you may wish to read the results in that Avast was one of two products that failed the VB testing this month.

The article from Ars Technica states:

“Here is the list of antimalware products that passed: Agnitum Outpost, AhnLab V3 Internet Security, AVG Internet Security, Avira AntiVir, CA eTrust, ESET NOD32, Fortinet FortiClient, FRISK F-Prot, F-Secure Client Security, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Kingsoft Internet Security, McAfee VirusScan, Microsoft Forefront, Microsoft OneCare, MWTI eScan, Quick Heal AntiVirus, Rising Antivirus, Sophos Anti-Virus, Symantec Endpoint Protection, VirusBuster Professional, and Webroot I.S. Essentials.

That leaves only two products that failed: Alwil avast! and Norman Virus Control. Both failed due to a single false positive; in other words, each one of the 23 products detected every single threat thrown at them.”

Now the question is whether VB is doing enough to really challenge all of these products. What do you think? Should the tests be harder?

Comments welcome.

Source

Are 95% Of Computers Vulnerable To Malware Attack?

Over at SF Gate on their technology web site, they have listed a report from a Danish security company known as Secunia that paints are very dark picture of our vulnerability to malware and cyber attacks. According to their findings, less that 5% of computers are protected properly from malware attacks. Which in theory indicates that 95% of us are vulnerable. In their statement Secunia indicates that:

 Ninety-five percent of personal computers are vulnerable to attack by hackers due to unpatched flaws in their software applications, according to data released on Wednesday by Secunia, a Danish security vendor. The data was collected this month and comes from 20,000 computer users who used Secunia’s tracking tool, Software Inspector, for the first time. The tool runs off Secunia’s Web site and tracks which applications on a user’s PC are insecure, meaning they have a hole for which a patch has not been applied.

The report is the latest development in the continuing battle between hackers and computer users. Software flaws have increased the past several years, say several security researchers, making it more challenging for PC owners who are trying to keep their machines secure.

According to Secunia’s data, less than 5 percent of the scanned computers had software applications that were considered secure. About a quarter of the computers had as many as five flawed applications, and another quarter had as many as 10. Forty-two percent of computers had more than 11 insecure applications. About 1.8 million applications were scanned.

If these numbers are accurate this makes one wonder. If keeping our anti-virus and other protections updated enough, or are the flaws that are not being plugged leaving us all at risk?

At the end of the article there are these tips:

PC protection

What you can do to keep your computer safe:

— Don’t keep software on your computer that you don’t use. Uninstall it.

— Disable JavaScript in your browser. It is a vector for many attacks that come from Web sites.

— Check regularly for software patches.

— Keep your anti-virus software current.

Source: Chronicle research

Comments welcome.

Complete article is located here.

[tags]malware, attacks, protection, web sites, viruses, 95% unprotected, vendors, secure,  [/tags]

Can Your Neighbors’ Router Attack Your System?

 A group of researches from the University of Indiana have come up with a theory in which it appears that our wi-fi routers could be turned against us to launch massive attacks against our computer systems. They also note in their report that wireless routers should not use a default password and that a strong alternative should be used instead. Even though WEP has many flaws, the researches stated that even WEP is better than no encryption at all.

In densely populated urban areas WiFi routers form a tightly interconnected proximity network that can be exploited as a substrate for the spreading of malware able to launch massive fraudulent attack and affect entire urban areas WiFi networks. In this paper we consider several scenarios for the deployment of malware that spreads solely over the
wireless channel of major urban areas in the US. We develop an epidemiological model that takes into consideration prevalent security flaws on these routers. The spread of such a contagion is simulated on real-world data for geo-referenced wireless routers. We uncover a major weakness of WiFi networks in that most of the simulated scenarios show tens of thousands of routers infected in as little time as two weeks, with the majority of the infections occurring in the first 24 to 48 hours. We indicate possible containment and prevention measure to limit the eventual harm of such an attack.

On Monday my wife was trying to print a document from here wireless laptop to our network printer to no avail. After doing some checking her system had some how connected to our neighbors unsecured router that uses the default Linsky address. :-)
Comments welcome.

Complete report in .pdf format is here.

[tags]royter, attack, unsecured, malware, viruses, report, [/tags]

Scandoo

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I use Google on a daily basis. I would be completely lost online without it, and it would take me a lot longer to get my work done if it didn’t exist. I’m sure that you would probably express some of the same sentiments if given the chance. The fact is that search engines are the first step for content discovery, and there’s an entire world of stuff to find and explore, which is usually a good thing, but in some cases, there are certain things that you don’t want to uncover. Malicious Web sites can spread viruses and spyware, and some online content may be offensive to you. Blindly clicking through search engine results can get you into some serious trouble, and that’s why Scandoo is helpful.

This service scans all search engine results for your protection. It labels what it thinks is OK, questionable, and objectionable. It’s a good idea to establish your security settings before you even get started so that Scandoo knows what you want to see and what you don’t want to see. The interface that is provided is simple enough – just type in the query that you want to quarantine, and then select the search engine that you want to use. The results are clearly labeled, and if there’s any questions about a certain site, then you can redefine it.

[tags]google,content,spyware,search engines,scandoo,viruses,objectionable content,security settings[/tags]

Less Than One In Four Americans Are Fully Potected Against Viruses & Malware

According to McAfee and the NCSA [National Cyber Security Alliance], less than one in four Americans have their home systems protected properly against both viruses and malware. Other facts they have found are:

When it comes to home computer security, Americans agree that keeping their computer safe is important, but they are not as secure as they think. A new national survey conducted by McAfee and NCSA compared online Americans’ opinions of their computer security to the reality – what security software they were actually running – and found that when it comes to cyber security, most Americans are in dire need of a reality check

 Some of the survey results:

87% believe they have anti-virus software.
73% believe they have a firewall.
70% believe they have anti-spyware software.

The bad news:

Just 22% have anti-spyware software installed, an enabled firewall and anti-virus protection that has received an updated DAT file within one week.

What is disturbing is the term ‘believe they have’. Either you know or you don’t. Which does lead one to believe that these numbers may even be lower than shown.

I wonder if we asked people ‘do you have brakes that work on your car?’ how many would answer ‘believe they have’ brakes that work. Either you have brakes that work on your car or you don’t. :-)

Seems like the public is still of need of more education.

Comments welcome.
Complete McAfee / NSCA report can be found here. It is in .pdf format.

[tags]mcafee, ncsa,spyware, viruses, malware, protections, [/tags]

Melissa – Not Such A Nice Lady

Back in March 1999 the Melissa virus was making the rounds as one of the first computer viruses that was transmitted by email. I recall the damage and devastation as people unknowingly opened Word attachments only to have the bug transferred to 50 people in their email address book. After this virus hit the saying on the Internet was ‘never open an email attachment’. It is interesting to see how far we have come in our fight against damaging computer critters, since the first computer virus was introduced some 25 years ago.

But the question is, have we done enough? I don’t believe so and here are a few reason why. We have not taken the time to educate to users on the dangers of the Internet and their responsibility to keep their systems protected. One would think that after computers having been in use for well over 25 years, that people would have a good handle on how to protect their computer systems. Yet according to some sources there are 1.5 million computers that have been taken over by hackers and are being used to exploit their wares. In some other recent surveys it is still claimed that over 1/2 of the worlds computers still don’t have an anti-virus program in use or that has been updated.

I recall when I was teaching computer classes I was always amazed how many people did not know they were supposed to update their anti-virus programs. Some who had owned computers for years had never completed an update. One particular brand of anti-virus software claimed it was in fact updated, yet I would find that the virus definitions were sometimes 6 months out of date. But there the user was surfing the Internet with no protections in place.

Which has always led me to believe that maybe we should require that all new Internet users take some type of a safety class, just to learn on how to keep their systems protected if they plan to surf the Internet.
What do you think? Would doing something like this help any?

Comments welcome.

[tags]melissa, viruses, protection, software, anti-virus, [/tags]

My Choices For Computer Security

I’ve received two emails in the last week asking me what software I recommend to secure computers from viruses and malware, so I thought I’d address the issue here. These are only my opinions. Others may disagree. Fine. As long as you know enough about it to have an opinion, you’re probably pretty safe, and that’s the whole idea of this column.

The first line of defense against baddies from the Net is the wetware. What, you might ask, is that? Simple — it’s the computer between your ears, and its peripherals. You, in other words. If you don’t use common sense, no software will keep you safe. So here are some wetware rules:

  • Don’t click on links in emails unless you’re sure you know where they lead. Mouse over the link. The address will show in the lower corner of your browser. If you have any doubt at all, go to the company’s site by typing the basic address (everything up to .com, and nothing from after it) into your browser window.
  • Don’t click on links in web pages indiscriminately. Use a browser plugin like SiteAdvisor to help you decide what’s safe. When in doubt, don’t.
  • Never open an email attachment that originated with a stranger. I don’t care if your brother opened it and nothing happened. He doesn’t know that. Don’t trust third party attachments, period. If you feel compelled to open one, download it to your desktop, run all the scans you can, and then take your chances.
  • If you get an attachment from someone you know, and you weren’t expecting it, don’t open it until you have checked with them to make sure they sent it (see above). There are programs that can raid people’s email contacts and send malware from faked addresses that are familiar to you. If they created it themselves, it’s probably safe.
  • Keep all your software up to date. Scan your computer at least once a month with Secunia’s Software Inspector and allow it to dig for applications that need updating. There are good instructions on the site, and it will provide you with links to the updates.
  • Keep your operating system updated. Run Windows Update regularly, or leave it turned on all the time if you trust Microsoft that much. If you use another operating system, make sure it’s up to date too. People are writing viruses and malware for Macs as we speak, and Linux isn’t perfectly safe, either.
  • Use an alternative browser. I know some of you will say Internet Explorer is safe if you keep it patched, and that Firefox and the others have security problems too. Horse manure. Any browser that avoids the Internet Explorer rendering engine has to be safer. BTW: don’t be fooled by browser shells that still use the IE kernel, such as Maxthon browser, Avant Browser, Clickgarden, Crazy Browser, Deepnet Explorer, and 4c vision. Firefox, Opera, Safari for Windows, and the other non-Microsoft browsers are safer. Period.

Now we come to what I personally use in terms of software. Your opinions may vary, and feel free to express them. This is what I do for my own PCs, and it’s what I’d do for my mom’s if she was using one at age 98.

First of all, I don’t like security suites. My own experience and everything I’ve read leads me to think that stand-alone programs designed specifically for one task do a better job, use fewer resources, and cause fewer problems. When they do cause problems, they’re easier to isolate because you can shut the individual programs down one at a time to check things out. My computer security is based on this premise. If you’re having good luck with a suite, more power to you.

Anti-virus: Eset’s NOD-32, the highest-rated system out there. $39.00 US/year, or $29.25/yr. on a 2-year subscription. Updates daily — often multiple.

Software firewall: Comodo Firewall Pro (free), the highest-rated system out there. There might be a few more warning screens than some folks like, but I’d rather that than too little protection.

Anti-malware program: Comodo BOClean. It’s harder to get good ratings for this kind of software, but the folks who use it swear by it. I’ve had no failures that I know of. It’s free, too.

Backup anti-malware: Ad-Aware SE Personal (free): No anti-malware system is perfect. I run BOClean constantly, and scan once a week with Ad-Aware. NOD-32 has a malware scanner incorporated as well, so I’m pretty well covered.

You will note that the total cost of my protection is the $29 bucks a year for NOD-32. That’s pretty bloody cheap for some of the best protection at any price!

Lots more about computer security here.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

[tags]computer security, firewalls, adware, malware, viruses, common sense[/tags]

Hijack This v2 Quick Start Guide

Over at Tom Coyote’s website there is a quick start guide for Hijack This software which shows a new user how to generate a log file for analysis. The quick start guide is handy when we are trying to help someone in a forum or by email that we suspect may have some type of an infection of their system. The log file generated can then be posted in a forum that has a resident expert who can analyze the log file and make suggestions as to the best remedy to remove the bad stuff.

What is common in most forums is statements made that the person spent $79.95 for ABC software that should of protected their systems against everything. Unfortunately most softwares are reactive and not proactive, and some bad stuff can sneak onto your system. It is also unfortunate that some of the most expensive software you pay for not only allows the bad stuff in and than is unable to effectively remove the junk from your system. :-(
On Tom’s site he describes Hijack This as:

HijackThis V2 examines certain key areas of the Registry and Hard Drive and lists their contents. These are areas which are used by both legitimate programmers and hijackers. Some items are perfectly fine. You should not remove them. Never remove everything. Doing that could leave you with missing items needed to run legitimate programs and add-ins. This Page will help you work with the Experts to clean up your system.

You can also download a copy of Hijack This from the link below.

Quick start guide can be found here.
[tags]hijack this, log file, infection, viruses, spyware, [/tags]

Google Online Security Blog

The folks at Google have finally publicly revealed their interest in Internet security and now have a blog available for your perusal. What I immediately found of interest is that the claim that one in ten sites contain malware may have been overreported according to the first Google security blog entry. It also seems that Google has been quietly involved in protecting us users from malware and have been doing so for the past year.

Which makes one wonder if Google may be going into the anti-virus and malware protection business? I think we all have some suspicious about the effectiveness and protections provided by the software companies like Symantec and McAfee and just how really effective their protections are. Symantec in particular has been embracing more FUD ever since Vista was released which makes one wonder their real motives. Is it to benefit the consumer or Symantec’s pocket book?

Google describes its efforts as:

Online security is an important topic for Google, our users, and anyone who uses the Internet. The related issues are complex and dynamic and we’ve been looking for a way to foster discussion on the topic and keep users informed. Thus, we’ve started this blog where we hope to periodically provide updates on recent trends, interesting findings, and efforts related to online security. Among the issues we’ll tackle is malware, which is the subject of our inaugural post.

Malware — surreptitious software capable of stealing sensitive information from your computer — is increasingly spreading over the Web. Visiting a compromised Web server with a vulnerable browser or plugins can result in your system being infected with a whole variety of malware without any interaction on your part. Software installations that leverage exploits are termed “drive-by downloads.” To protect Google’s users from this threat, we started an anti-malware effort about a year ago.

Unfortunately, the scope of the problem has recently been somewhat misreported to suggest that one in 10 Web sites are potentially malicious. To clarify, a sample-based analysis puts the fraction of malicious pages at roughly 0.1%. The analysis described in our paper covers billions of URLs. Using targeted feature extraction and classification, we select a subset of URLs believed to be suspicious for in-depth investigation. So far, we have investigated about 12 million suspicious URLs and found about 1 million that engage in drive-by downloads. In most cases, the web sites that infect your system with malware are not intentionally doing so and are often unaware that their web servers have been compromised.

I would like to applaud Google for its efforts in trying to protect us all from the ravages that malware can create on a infected system and hope it can keep up the good work. I have more confidence in the Google team than in some of the companies that profess protections but who may have a different agenda. Also it seems to me that Google has a lot at stake since they want to maintain consumers confidence in the security of the Internet and have the manpower plus money to eliminate and/or curtail some of the activity of malware infested sites.

Google security blog here.

What do you think?

Comments, as always, welcome.

[tags]google, security, malware,viruses, protections, [/tags]

Spyberus – Robot Genius – Block Viruses & Spyware – Free Trial

I have previously written several articles concerning using software that will actually block out malware, viruses and not depend on software such as those from Symantec, McAfee and others to scan and detect after a infection takes place. Another newbie ventures onto the scene called Robot Genius – Spybeus. There website claims the following:

Malware has blossomed from an adolescent power trip to a business in its own right whose specialty is harvesting passwords, credit card numbers, and valuable documents. Today’s malware even repairs itself if partially removed, and downloads updates on a regular basis to keep one step ahead of any would-be defenders. Traditional anti-malware solutions are strong against known threats, but particularly weak against emerging, unknown and zero-day threats.

Spyberus: Fast, Effective Defense Against Malware

Introducing Spyberus: an anti-malware desktop security client that uses a unique behavior-based approach to malware detection. The Spyberus client does not rely on the use of “scanning engines” and signatures to detect malware and protect users against malicious threats. Instead, it tracks all newly installed programs by monitoring file activity and all writes to the hard drive.

So what the heck. It’s a freebie so I’ll give it try. I’ll be reporting back in the next few weeks to let you know if this works or not and if I had any problems. You are also more than welcome to try it yourself as well. Free download of Spybeus from here.
If you do decide to try it, let me know what you think.

Comments welcome.

[tags]viruses, malware, block, scan, [/tags]

Microsoft New Website – Forefront – How To Defend Your System

Well I’m not sure if this is for real or not. I find it somewhat hard to believe that Microsoft is sponsoring just a ….. a……joke. This site should be about the seriousness of virus and malware attacks. Instead it’s almost child like. Does Microsoft really think the public is this lame that we need aliens and other characters representing attacks to get a message across.

Enough said. You gotta see this for yourself.

Microsoft Forefront

Let me know what you think. Comments welcome.

PS As my good friend Gary once said to me, “Do you really want Microsoft protecting your system. Its like having a fox watch the hen house.” :-)

[tags]microsoft, forefront, viruses, malware, attacks, [/tags]

Spyware, Malware, Viruses Driving This Brother-In-Law Nuts!

It’s all too common. In-laws who seem to find every spyware, malware, and virus out there. And then they expect a family member to clean up their systems for FREE ! No matter what you do, they disregard your warnings, fail to keep the protections you’ve installed updated, and in general have become a pain in the posterior.

What brought this to mind was the following email I got from a friend of mine in California in which he stated:

My in-law (wife’s sister) is a single mom with four kids. Mom has no control over the computer and lets the kids surf wildly on the Internet, clicking every banner ad and downloading anything they wish. The system gets so clogged with junk that it takes me about eight hours of work to clean it up. I’m doing this about once a month. I can’t say anything because I don’t want to upset the wife. But after working on computers all week to make a living, I am tired of having to set aside one weekend just to clean up this computer. Any suggestions?

This is the gist of what I recommended. I know it’s a difficult situation, especially when family is involved, and you feel like you are being taken advantage of. My only suggestion is tough love. Which is easy to say, but hard to implement. The first one you need to get on your side is your wife. And you need to do this slowly and not dump this on her all at once by saying “Your sister is a dummy and I’m not doing this anymore!” Wrong. Drop subtle hints here and there, using some humor. Like if the phone rings, say, “I hope it’s not your sister with another computer problem!” (make sure to say it with a huge smile on your face.)

Next, train the mom or oldest child on how to clean the system. Provide them with a disk of the cleanup utilities you use and train them on how to use them. Show them how time consuming it is to clean a system. They may not realize how much time you actually are spending to keep it clean.

Last, but not least. And this is hard. If you are still stuck doing the cleanup, do a lousy job. Clean up the system halfway, leaving some junk on it. When they call again, which they will, say this is much worse than you originally thought and you’ll have to take it home for a ‘few days.’ Keep it for a week. Maybe ten days. When they call asking where the PC is, tell them it’s really, really bad; it’s a really big job and you are doing your best. You know how it goes, just pretend you are the auto mechanic who’s working on your car. Every job is a ‘really big job,’ ‘worse than I thought,’ ‘might be tomorrow, next day at the latest, or first thing next week!’

You will be surprised that, when mom doesn’t have the built-in computer babysitter for a week or so, she may come to the realization that it would be in her best interest to try and work with you to keep the computer clean.

That’s it. I’ve got to go. My grandson just called me and said the new software game I bought him (Cars) is not working properly! LOL! What can I say? I’m easy.

[tags]spyware, viruses, free help, cleanup, relatives, family[/tags]