Rogue's are a new breed of Web threats being developed by cybercriminals and malicious programmers. In short, they are fake antispyware, antivirus, security tools, or registry cleaners that often report infections or other security problems on your computer that do not actually exist. In fact the program telling you that there is an infection is a very serious infection. Victims are often prompted, or even nagged, to renew the protection so that the infections can be removed.
A partial list of rogue security software exists on Wikipedia.
Typical behaviors of a rogue include:
- They make using a computer or some programs very difficult
- They block access to important system tools
- They interfere with legitimate antivirus programs ability to operate and even update
- They often delete programs and other files that are used to remove infections
- They are often accompanied by other infections (malware)
- They nag the user for payment, then if an unsuspecting used actually pays there are often additional attempts to extort additional payments from the user
There are a number of ways to detect Rogues and other virus infections. Here is a short list of some of the most common computer symptoms:
- Your computer seems to be running slower than usual.
- You have pop-up windows that you would not normally expect. Especially watch for this when you are not actively surfing the internet.
- You have programs on your computer that you did not install.
- You have security messages warning you that your computer is not protected, that it is infected or that you have some other problem. It is important to note that some infections will display FAKE warnings to encourage you to purchase software or other services to protect your computer.
If you are infected, or feel that you may be, you should backup ALL important data including email, photos, documents, etc now. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, however you should avoid the use of a Flash Drive. An offline backup, where Windows is not running from your own hard drive, may be the only reliable method of backup if you are infected. We also recommend a good online backup solution as one of the very best options to protect yourself (before you are infected), and you may be able to get such a service at no cost. Please see our web page for details on the products that we have found to be safe and effective:
You should never use an infected computer to access online services such as email, online banking or other services. If you have logged into any online accounts, accessed any financial information from your computer or if you are storing any information that is confidential it is very important to watch those accounts and to take appropriate precautions. If the computer is used in a business, or by an employee who conducts business from that computer, you may have state and/or federal regulations that require you to notify certain agencies, law enforcement and even your clients.
Removing the infection can be accomplished in a number of ways. One way is to use your computer’s restore disk to ERASE and restore everything on your computer. A word of warning that you will lose all of the programs and data that you, or others, have placed on the computer so you should have a backup first.
Another good option is to contact your favorite computer support provider for assistance. We offer virus cleanup services, please see our contact information.
Use caution if you choose to remove the infection yourself, especially if surfing online for a solution. There are many rogue anti-virus programs that claim to resolve the infection and turn out to be viruses or Trojans themselves. If you would like to resolve the issue yourself you can contact us by email for advice at no cost. See our contact page.
I love the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” because it is really true when protecting your computer from an infection. Here are the simple steps that we recommend:
- Install a good anti-virus with firewall, it is important to use a product that is effective and trustworthy. For most clients we recommend Trend Micro Internet Security, however other good solutions exist. Please check our virus products page for the products that we currently recommend where you will find links to the official website for each company.
- Install a hardware firewall and/or content filter.
- Setup a good backup solution. Even with the best anti-virus there is still some risk, so we recommend the use of a good backup solution that is secure and stores your most important information off site. This will also help to protect you should you experience a hard drive crash, theft of your computer, fire, or other disaster. In researching the best products we have identified Mozy as the best solution for both home and business because of the high security, high reliability and low cost (in some cases they are even free). Please check our backup products page for details about Mozy and how you can start backing you data up now.
- Immediately install all of the Windows patches and updates.
- Disable the “Drive Auto-run” feature in windows to avoid infections from USB drives such as Flash Drives and external hard drives.
- If you have children it is a very good practice to locate your computer in a public location within the home.
- Avoid downloading FREE programs, many of these include some sort of adware, spyware, viruses and other Trojans.
- Avoid using file sharing websites and services, including music, where the files you are downloading are free.
- Use discretion when using social networking sites as they often permit users to post content and applications that may not be safe.
- Use discretion when clicking on advertisements located on any website. Over the past several months we have noticed a number of fake advertisers that will infect your computer at some point after clicking on the advertisement. To combat this we carefully manage the advertising that is placed on this site, using only trusted partners, providers and advertisers. Other websites, especially when they grow very large, sometimes loose control of the advertising on there site, this can result in unscrupulous advertisements being posted on the site.
- When browsing the internet be aware of pop-ups that warn you of infections or other problems with your computer. Close these windows immediately using the Alt and F4 keys on your keyboard. It is best to avoid visiting sites that contain these pop-ups.