30 April 2012

The Virus

The "Fake" label is an addition!
I don't know where it came from or how it slipped through my anti-virus software (although I have to admit that my Windows updates were lagging a little!), but suddenly my computer was running a program called "SMART" and purporting to scan my files.

It was obviously a virus, and a little research (on another computer) confirmed this.    It disabled everything including my web-browser.

I have now found out that all this virus does is tell you that you've got a number of infections, and that to get rid of them, you need to purchase their software.  In fact, it is itself probably the only infection, and it's certainly not recommended that you buy their software (although one report I read said that when you do, the symptoms do in fact go away - but I certainly wasn't going to test this).  In the meantime, it had incapacitated my computer.
My eventual solution was to re-boot the computer in "safe" mode (press F8 during the start up process) and download then run Microsoft Safety Scanner.  This took under 15 minutes, and cost nothing (although I still haven't managed to restore all the Windows settings that the virus altered).  However, before doing this, I had spent well over 2 hours endeavouring to persuade my normal anti-virus program to fix the problem - to no avail, because it wouldn't update itself in "safe" mode.
How I would have managed had the virus had prevented the computer booting in "safe" mode, I don't know.   Hopefully this is a rare occurrence (but it does reinforce the need to keep Windows up-to-date with Microsoft's upgrade service).

A little while back I was offered a year's subscription to BitDefender, which, due to fact that I didn't follow the instructions correctly during the sign-up process, I failed to take up.   I am certainly now reviewing my anti-virus options, with another possibility (beside BitDefender)  being Microsoft's "Security Essentials" (which, to date, has functioned satisfactorily on another of our computers).

I have also changed the settings on in "Windows Update".   Previously, I thought it would be a good idea not to have updates automatically installed, so as to keep some control over what was going on.  However, I have to admit that I got a little behind on my updates!    As quite a lot of updates seem to be security patches, perhaps the fact that I got into arrears may have been a factor in my troubles.

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