Regular readers of this site may well have wondered why I have not dealt with the issue of so called “scareware” removal, in some time.
Frankly, articles dealing with the removal of scareware generate huge numbers of hits. Often, a single article dealing with the newest form of scareware, and how to eradicate it from an infected system, will produce 1,000 + hits in a day on this site.
So what’s the problem then; why not write about it – bloggers love to get loads of hits, right? Well yes, bloggers do like to get loads of hits, so that’s not a problem. The problem is whether or not advice on how to remove scareware leads to a malware free system.
Having watched the development and deployment of scareware over the last two years, and having noted the increasing sophistication of the current crop of scareware applications, I have come to the conclusion that scareware removal instructions have limited value, except perhaps, for the most technically sophisticated computer user. I’m not fussy on having to give up 1,000 + hits a day, but……
While it may be true that this type of malware, otherwise known as “rogue security software”, is scary, it is so much more than that. A more accurate name for this parasitic infectious software is “destroyware”, since the effect it has on a victim’s system is just that.
Once infected by this type of malware, the chances of a safe system recovery are essentially non-existent. The installation of such malware invariable leads to a critically disabled PC. A reformat and a system re-install, are more than likely in the cards.
Yes, I know, there are literally hundreds of sites that will walk you through the process of attempting to eliminate this type of scourge, but simply put – if your computer becomes infected with the current scareware circulating on the Internet, you are, in most cases, wasting your time attempting to save your system.
If you doubt this, take a look at Trojan War Resolution: The Battle Won, in which the author (Larry Walsh of eWeek), describes a three day marathon system recovery attempt which was ultimately successful, but…..
The best advice? Have your PC worked on by a certified computer technician, who will have the tools, and the competency, to determine if the infection can be removed without causing system damage. Computer technicians do not provide services at no cost, so be prepared for the costs involved.
If you have become infected by scareware (rogue software), and you want to try your hand at removal, then by all means do so.
The following free resources can provide tools and advice you will need to attempt removal.
Malwarebytes, a very reliable anti-malware company, offers a free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, a highly rated anti-malware application which is capable of removing many newer rogue applications.
411 Spyware – a site that specializes in malware removal. I highly recommend this site.
Bleeping Computer – a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software. This is another site I highly recommend.
SmitFraudFix, available for download at Geekstogo is a free tool that is continuously updated to assist victims of rogue security applications.
What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue software.
Be careful in downloading freeware or shareware programs. Spyware is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download this type of program only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, or sites that you know to be safe.
Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications.
Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is Web of Trust, an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on, that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.
Do not click on unsolicited invitations to download software of any kind.
Additional precautions you can take to protect your computer system:
When surfing the web: Stop. Think. Click
Don’t open unknown email attachments
Don’t run programs of unknown origin
Disable hidden filename extensions
Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched
Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use
Disable scripting features in email programs
Make regular backups of critical data
Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised
Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.
Install a personal firewall on the computer.
Install anti-virus/anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet
Ensure the anti-virus software scans all email attachments
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