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1st Published, Dec. 2004
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Internet infestation -Or, how you are getting Internet “Junk” in and compromise your Computer/Network, and what to do about it?
Most of the internet "Junk" is not produced by hackers, it comes through regular unsafe surfing habits.
If the “Site Keeper” loaded his Site's pages with “Junk” and you surf with insecure connection it will get to your computer once you log to the Site.
I use the word "Junk" to create a mental reminder while surfing the Internet.
The official term is: malicious software, or Malware.
As an example, almost all of the sites offering Free Sexually related material practice Malware codes in their pages.
Common Sign of "Junk Overload" is a fast computer starting to Run Slowww..., and or you are pestered by Huge amount of Popup ads.
The majority of the “Junk” comes through clicking on the tempting ads and announcements that appear during regular surfing.
I would strongly recommend AVOID Clicking on any unintentional message, or suggestion that appears onthe screen while you are surfing.
By unintentional I mean messages that are not pertaining to the reason that you logged to the page to begin with.
As an Example:
Popping Windows offering Free “stuff”, and or Free information that you did not asked for.
Windows telling you that your computer can use their software or services to be better/faster.
Windows that tells you that some thing is wrong with your computer and you should click on them to repair it.
Windows offering services that you did not look for.
Windows that come up with You Won, Click here to claim your price.
There is many more of this Sort I hope that by Now you got the Idea.
Avoid any form of communication that ask for your email or any other information not related to the issue at hand. If you intentionally logged to shopping site you might need to provide them with information, otherwise do not provide or accept information from sources that came about when you are surfing and you did not intended to deal with when you started to surf.
Your Bank, Credit Card Company, etc. will not ask you for personal accounts info through email. D not provide sensitive info over the Internet unless you intentionally logged into your account and the connection is a secured connection.
Infestation comes through Files that are attached to email.
The Internet is infested with email sent to users with messages that looks very personal. These messages might have an attachment that includes Virus or Worm etc.
Getting the email itself is usually not a problem but if you open the attachment your system might end up Toasted.
As a Rule, I never open an attachment from a person that I do not know, or and it was not agreed by previous email that specific attachment is coming.
Oh My God I am Hacked.
If you have an Internet connection (especially Broadband) and your computer is not basically protected a Hacker can sneak in while you are surfing and Do a lot of Damage.
So what can I do to minimize the Risk?
You can start by reading this page:
Basic Protection for Broadband Internet Installation.
In addition you can keep few Free Programs that might help you in checking the current status of your system and take action if necessary.
Many of the “Spying” junk will install it self with a link put in the one of Startup directories. The StartUp process starts programs that are necessary, or and chosen the load up automatically when you start your computer. If there is "Junk" programs in your StartUp folder they would start too and be kept in memory working in the background while your computer is On.
Download this Free program: StartUP Page.
This program let you see and manage all the entries in the Win Startup Process. The nice thing about it, you can Check or Uncheck entries and see how it is affecting the system without Installing or Uninstalling.
Uncheck a suspicious entry and reboot the computer. If the infestation went away and every thing is Normal get rid of the related file and delete the Startup Entry. If un-checking an Entry yields Bad Effects check it back and reboot again.
This is a picture of the tab that include programs that I choose to load. Some of them unchecked since do not use them frequently. Notice how you can see the exact source of the program which might help in case of an Unrecognized program.
Screen Shot: StartUp.
Make a list of the programs that re loaded when you have Clean Normal Functional Computer, and you would have a frame of reference for the future.
Log here for a list of many StartUp Infestations: Random startup entry/filename Malware.
Download here: Free - Process Explorer.
The program will show you every thing that is running in your computer's memory at the time of the checking. It is an excellent product that might help in identifying (and Kill) unnecessary programs and active processes that run in the background.
When running it in the first time pull down the View menu, scroll down to Select Columns, choose the Process Memory tab, and check Working set size and Peak Working set size.
This Screen Shot shows the Running Processes of Virtual WinXP using the free Outpost1 as a Firewall: Process Explorer.
Pointing to each process with the mouse will provide information about the actual File that is producing the process.
You can Kill a process (or a running program) by right clicking on the entry and chose Kill Process from the menu. Killing a Process does not delete any thing it just gets it out of the RAM. The process will come back at the Next reboot. However if Killing the Process terminated an Infestation and the computer is back to normal you might want the delete the software that created the process.
As with the StartUp your frame of reference should be the list of processes that are presented when your computer is Clean and running well.
The links at the end of this page would provide info about getting rid of many of these pests. Or use a search engine to find info about process/program.
Use Anti: Spyware, Ad-aware, Clean, and Protect programs.
There are many commercially available protection programs that can be found online and in computer store.
However, if you can not afford any, the following is Free and just as Good as the for pay software.
Ad-Aware, an excellent Free program that helps in cleaning and protecting you system from variety of “Junk”. I run it almost every few days at the end of Internet activities. Usually updated once a week.
Link to: Ad-Aware SE Personal
Link to: SpyBot-Search & Destroy
Ad-Aware and SpyBot belong to the same type of programs and there might be overlapping in their functions. However each one might find additional "Junk" that was Not Detected by the other. So it is a good practice to use them both.
AntiVir, an excellent Free program updated every few days.
Free Anti-Virus: AntiVir Personal Edition.
Scan you hard drive weekly with the following to clean "Junk" that might pass you Protection Barrier.
Free Trojan Scanner: a² free.
The variety of infestation is so large that the general programs like the above can not keep with all of them.
There are many other small programs intended toward specific “seasonal infestations”.
If you are infested and the above did not help to clean and return your computer to Normal functioning, you might try logging to the special security sites for help:
Here are few links that might serve as a good starting point to deal with Protection/Cleaning issues.
Microsoft - Defining Malware: FAQ
Microsoft - The Antivirus Defense-in-Depth Guide
Dealing with Unwanted Spyware and Parasites
Adware, Spyware and other unwanted "malware" - and how to remove them
All of the above have to be done before you get infested. There is no glory in pushing your luck, do not wait for the unenviable.
Hey, I am already in Trouble!!!
First run the cleaning programs that are mentioned above.
If it did not help and you are still in trouble this page offers more help: Basic Steps in cleaning Internet "Junk".
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