Tag Archives: SUPERAntiSpyware

NEW – Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.5 Released

imagePanda Cloud Antivirus 1.5, Panda Security’s newest release (June 20, 2011), of it’s popular cloud-based antimalware application, should be even more effective at keeping the bad guys at bay with it’s newest enhanced features.

New features include – improved scanning speeds, less CPU consumption, advanced configuration options for exclusions of files based on file extensions, and a new activity monitor which shows information such as scanned file details, and previous viruses detected.

Panda Security obviously pays attention to its users recommendations for improved product features, since a number of these new features were suggested by the user community.

Panda Cloud Antivirus is based on Collective Intelligence, a system for detecting and disinfecting viruses and other threats that feeds off the knowledge shared by millions of users. The computers that are part of the Panda Community – instantly share and benefit from all the information stored in the cloud.

Testing anti-malware applications takes considerable time in order to get to the heart of the matter – does an application work in the “real world?”

Will the application do what an average user expects – does it block malware effectively and efficiently? Particularly new, or emerging, malware threats.

Is the interface crafted in such a way that an average user doesn’t need to digest an instruction manual in order to navigate the application?

Is the application capable of providing adequate protection without stressing system resources?

I’ve been running Panda Cloud Antivirus, on a secondary system, since April 2009, and in this extensive testing, Panda Cloud Antivirus has met, or exceeded, all of these requirements. So, I’m looking forward to giving this new release a workout.

Installation:

Pay particular attention at the Install screen. Once again, you’ll be asked to accept a Toolbar and a change in your Homepage – annoying as hell. As well, on this screen, you can choose your language.

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Panda is obviously convinced that the “more is less” GUI approach, is suitable for most users. Kudos – I couldn’t agree more.

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The optimized scan screen.

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Scan time: under 5 minutes – 19,873 files.

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The settings menu is accessed via the tool icon – as shown at the “hand icon” in the above screen shot. I found this “hideaway” a little awkward.

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Despite an abundance of settings you’ll find some settings are only available in the Pro version.

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At less than $30 for the one year Pro Edition license, you might consider jumping up to this version. Frankly though, I’m no fan of one year licenses.

Not when one considers that a lifetime license for Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware and SUPERAntiSpyware, both of which are outstanding applications, can be purchased for less than $30 – considerably less when on sale.

Fast facts:

Light – Only works where necessary. It’s so light you won’t even notice it.

Easy – Don’t worry about complicated decisions ever again. Panda Cloud Antivirus will make the best decisions for you to keep your PC protected.

Secure – Panda Cloud Antivirus is based on Collective Intelligence, a system that continuously collects and analyzes viruses and other threats gathered from the community of millions of Panda users around the world.

Free – No tricks! Panda Cloud Antivirus has a free version that protects you against viruses and malicious websites.

Note: Panda’s Collective Intelligence servers have analyzed 175,569,053  (and counting) viruses, and known goodware.

System requirements: Windows 7 32-bit, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit, Windows XP 32-bit,  Windows XP 64-bit.

Panda Cloud Antivirus is available in 20 languages.

Download at: Panda Security

Backed by more than two years experience running Panda Cloud Antivirus in various editions, I have no hesitation in recommending Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.5 as a front line antivirus application.

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Microsoft’s Free On-Demand “Safety Scanner” Released

From the better late than never department:

imageIt seems everyone has gotten into the – one shot – one time – malware scanner market – including Microsoft (finally), with the release of the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

Sophisticated computer users know, that depending on a single security application to provide a reliable “all clear- no malware” signal just doesn’t cut it – not with the huge number of new malware threats we’re exposed to every day.

Part of the layered security process (stacking security solutions, one on top of the other, to cover the gaps that exist in the protection capabilities of even the most sophisticated security applications), consists of supplementing the primary AV application with an on-demand scanner.

Since the Microsoft Safety Scanner is an on-demand application (it’s not designed to replace your installed AV), you’ll have no problems running it with your existing antivirus software. In fact, since Microsoft Safety Scanner is a stand-alone application and does not require installation, you can easily run it from a portable drive.

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Here, I’ve chosen to run a full scan. As indicated, a quick scan and a user selected specified folder scan, are also available.

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I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the progress bar – it’s not particularly accurate. Mind you, I’ve never seen an AV progress bar that was.

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Full scan on 900,000+ files completed in 1 hour and 19 minutes.

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Note: The Microsoft Safety Scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded. To rerun a scan with the latest anti-malware definitions, download and run the Microsoft Safety Scanner again.

System Requirements: Windows 7; Server 2003; Vista; XP.

Download at: Microsoft

Recommended free alternatives:

SUPERAntiSpyware: The free version of SUPERAntiSpyware despite it’s lack of real-time protection deserves its reputation as a first class security application, and it’s definitely worth considering adding to your security toolbox as a secondary line of defense.

BitDefender Free Edition is an on-demand virus scanner with powerful scan engines which ensures detection and removal of all viruses in the wild every time you need it. Best used in a system recovery or forensics role.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware: Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has an excellent reputation (shared by me), as an outstanding security application, for its ability to identify and remove adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers, and other malware threats.

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Like Pirated Software? – Have I Got A Deal For You!

image We all love pirates it seems; at least in fiction. Pirates like Long John Sliver, in Treasure Island, and Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, to name just two.

It’s easy enough, I suppose, to glamorize pirates in fiction, since they all seem to possess redeeming qualities. But in the modern age, (think Somalia), pirates have no redeeming qualities – they are simply thieves.

Pirates don’t restrict their activities to sailing the bounding main however. The vast majority of present day pirates (the software pirate), sail the the currents of the Internet – stealing and pillaging.

If you’re a software pirate you’re definitely on my shit list. Because of you, part of every dollar I spend in buying software, goes to cover the cost of of your thieving behavior.

Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments in support of software theft –

How about lowering ridiculous high pricing in the first place?

Some steal it because they can’t buy it, in which case your not going to sell it to them anyway.

Users in third world countries can’t afford to buy the software even if they wanted to.

Software vendors already put the fact that there will be piracy into the price of their products. (My point exactly – you cost ME money).

Most of these argument revolve around the cost of software – always assumed to be artificially high. Frankly, I support the argument that software pricing is often outrageous. But, is that fact a justification for being a thief?

Personally, I find the cost of new cars too high. But, that doesn’t mean I’d be justified in stealing a car from my local Toyota dealership. Why is it, stealing from software developers is seen by many, as somehow different?

Recently, I happened to come across the Seventh Annual BSA and IDC Global Software Piracy Study, which made the point “for every $100 worth of legitimate software sold, an additional $75 worth of unlicensed software made its way onto the market.”

I had some difficulty with the methodology used in this study, but overall, the findings are reasonable accurate.

Selected findings from this study:

Commercial value of software theft exceeds $50 billion: the commercial value of unlicensed software put into the market in 2009 totaled $51.4 billion.

Progress on piracy held through the recession: the rate of PC software piracy dropped in nearly half (49%) of the 111 economies studied, remained the same in 34% and rose in 17%.

Piracy continues to rise on a global basis: the worldwide piracy rate increased from 41% in 2008 to 43% in 2009; largely a result of exponential growth in the PC and software markets in higher piracy, fast growing markets such as Brazil, India and China.

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So here’s the deal I mentioned in the title to this article – if you search out, or use, pirated software, in almost every case you’ll get an added bonus – malware.

My good buddy Rod, an Australian security developer executive, who generously keeps me in the loop regarding Internet threats detected by his companies through their various Internet  resources, passed on the following information, this week.

Those who are into downloading pirated anti-malware programs or dubious license keys, could be in for a nasty surprise!

“HijackThis Pro 2.0.4 Portable” on WaReZ and Torrents sites is not a Trend Micro product. You don’t have to run it to get infected … merely unpacking the archive will zap you with TrojanDownloader.Pegel.BU.

Several websites offering stolen or otherwise illegally obtained “free keys” for Kaspersky, SuperAntiSpyware and ESET programs have been poisoned with malicious iFrames in the past few days (which doesn’t say much for the intelligence of the webmasters), and the trick is spreading.

You don’t need to download anything to infect yourself … depending on which site you visit, the front page will instantly zap you with TrojanDownloader.Pegel.BR, or TrojanDownloader.Pegel.BU.

In the end, there is no justifiable reason to steal software. It is piracy, and it is a CRIME. Many commercial software applications have an open source equivalent and that’s the route to choose.

Not only will you be choosing the moral path, but you will be supporting the greatest concept in software, ever – Open Source.

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Another Day in the Trenches: Killing XP Antivirus 2010

Popular guest writer Mark Schneider, walks you through a computer recovery operation, following an infection by a rogue security program, XP Antivirus.

I hate rogue antivirus programs. They seem to be getting more numerous and harder to get rid of all the time. Case in point: At work, I noticed a shared computer suddenly popped up a Window announcing it was doing a scan, and that I was infected with over 4,000 Trojans and other forms of malware.

Nice try I thought, so I used Control Alt Delete to start task manager, and I closed Internet Explorer and all running processes involved. Fortunately, it was a limited user account that was infected, and that turned out to be a important factor in removing it.

I immediately ran Malwarebytes from that user and found a number of infections including the rogue antivirus product I was afflicted with. These cretins that come up with this crap can’t even come up with something creative – we’ve seen XP Antivirus for a few years now; each year they just tack on a year to make it look current.

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Sad thing is, I’m sure somewhere out there is someone who renews this crap every year. Imagine paying yearly to be infected – oh right, we already do that it’s called McAfee, but don’t get me started.

Well back to the task at hand: I rebooted the machine and logged into an administrator account, updated Malwarebytes and ran it again… and found more junk, actually the same junk. Malwarebytes found it, but could not kill it.

Next, I downloaded Superantispyware, a great application that I always run at home but it wasn’t on the work machine. The first thing I do now after I download a anti-malware application is rename the installer. I do this because I often find the malware knows how to prevent anti-malware from installing – these guys aren’t creative, but they’re getting smarter.

To rename a file, right click on the file and select rename and type anything.exe and install the program. Superantispyware did its thing and found a ton of additional files. I removed the infected files and rebooted again, and ran both my programs again. I still found junk!

I repeated the sequence two more times until nothing was found. I then ran a scan in all user accounts to confirm “the kill”. So far so good, until I went into the user account where the infection had started, now whenever I tried to launch any program from the desktop I’d get the “Choose what Program you want to use to Open this File” message. This means I had to fix file associations and a great site with XP file association fixes is here. I used the .exe file association fix and it worked great.

The last thing I did was to run Process Explorer, and Autoruns from Syinternals. These utilities give a great in-depth look at what is currently running and starting on your machine at boot-up. Finding nothing suspicious I deemed the computer clean, for now.

So a few lessons I learned on this one: Don’t use IE – this was caused by a flaw in Internet Explorer I believed it was just fixed this week. Second, running as a limited user is still far safer than running as an administrator, even though its trivial to elevate to administrator level, most malware seldom does, and this makes cleaning an infected PC much easier.

Next, running your cleanup tools multiple times and rebooting after each scan is the only way to give the anti-malware tools a chance against the bad guys.

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level techie, to the blogging world.

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Windows 7 – Security Essentials You Need to Know

Guest writer Mark Schneider gives you some important pointers on how to take advantage of Windows 7 security features.

image Windows 7 is a big deal. Many people, in the tech industry, believe it will be the catalyst for the next tech boom in hardware sales. Could be – Windows 7 is a great OS.

Staying secure in Windows 7 however, still requires users to be careful. If you upgrade to Windows 7, one of the first things I recommend most users do is, go to UAC in “start search” and click on “Change User Account Control Settings”.

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Once the UAC window appears, use the new slider interface to move your security settings all the way to the top to “Always Notify Me” – the most secure setting you can have. The reason is obvious: the UAC is there for a reason, to protect you. There’s no point in turning down the protection you already have built in to your computer.

To back up this point, I found a post from Sophos, a security software company, that found a random sample of 10 malware samples infected Windows 7 running UAC, at its default mode. It also ran the test on a machine running no security software.

Neowin, a popular Windows blog, however cried fowl, and ripped the methodology of the “study”. I admit, Sophos sells sell security software so their motives might be questionable. But I still think it’s prudent, and wise, to turn up your UAC.

So the next step after turning up UAC is to make sure you have an antivirus program. The free Microsoft Security Essentials is a fine, free program and I’m running it on several machines. I’d also get Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software, and top it off with SuperAntispyware another great antispyware program.

Microsoft Security Essentials

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Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

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SUPERAntiSpyware

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Another common item on the security checklist – type “Folders” into “start search”, open “Folder Options” and select “View”. Uncheck “Hide Extensions for known File Types” – this way, if someone sends you a picture you normally see as a .jpg file but it is in fact, an executable file, then you will see the jpg.exe it really is.

Folder Options

Pictures don’t normally have executables in them, and for some unknown reason Microsoft continues to hide known extensions by default.

Security threats being what they are, a few quick techniques will help keep you safe, even with the latest, and greatest, from Microsoft.

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level techie, to the blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Mark’s site today.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Tech Thoughts Top 8 Free Antimalware Applications

Depending on a single security application to provide adequate computer system protection, is a common mistake. A mistake, often made by new computer users.

If you’re a new computer user, I can assure you – a single security application does not, and never has had the ability to this, despite the commonly help belief to the contrary. The underbelly of the Internet is in constant flux, with literally thousands of new threats discovered every day.

Seasoned computer users recognize that in order to ensure maximum safety, it’s important to have layered defenses in the ongoing fight against malware.

Free Free security applications can help you build this system of layered defenses. But searching out, downloading, and installing free security programs from the Internet, given the vast quantity of such programs, can often be frustrating.

The problem, as I see it, for the casual computer user, is not the availability of these programs, but which ones work; which ones have a deserved reputation for quality and functionality.

I have tested the following free applications, and their updated editions, over several years, in “real world” conditions (not artificial tests), for reliability, functionality, and quality. These programs have a strong and loyal following, that is well deserved.

Note: The applications are not listed in order of preference, but alphabetically. Each application has its own unique characteristics.

There is no harm in downloading more than one antimalware application to be used as a secondary scanner. In fact, doing so can be advantageous. However, be sure NOT to allow more than one application to autostart, in order to prevent conflicts.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

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Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware is an excellent choice, as a secondary line of defense. The free version of this speed demon (it’s faster at scanning than any anti-malware program I’ve tested in the last 2 years), with its easy to employ interface, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers.

When a free application has been downloaded over 45,000 times from your site, like Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has been at my site, you just have to know this application is a winner.

Microsoft Security Essentials

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I tested Security Essentials early on, as a beta tester on my Win 7 machine, backed up by my usual, on demand, free security applications of course. To cut to the chase, let me just say – I’m impressed.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a no cost viable alternative to more familiar security applications and it does provide active, real-time protection.

PC Tools Free Antivirus

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I’m very comfortable recommending the free version of this application as a front line antivirus defender. In the time I have been testing PC Tools Free AntiVirus on my Windows 7 system, I have been more than satisfied with its performance.

Some good news: PC Tools has very kindly provided us with 10 free licenses for their new product, PC Tools Internet Security 2010, which includes antivirus protection. We will be running a contest which will give you an opportunity to win one of these licenses shortly. So, stay tuned for our review of PC Tools Internet Security 2010, and your chance to win one of these valuable licenses.

Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus Starter Edition

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The highly regarded Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus, does include full scan and remove capabilities, scheduled scans, database updates, but only limited real-time protection from both spyware and viruses.

I’ve reviewed this application a number of times, and consider it an outstanding antimalware application.

Some more good news: PC Tools has provided us with 10 free licenses for a fully functioning version of this product. We will be running an additional contest, which will give you an opportunity to win one of these licenses shortly. So, stay tuned for our review of  Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus the full version, and your chance to win one of these valuable licenses.

SpywareBlaster

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SpywareBlaster prevents ActiveX-based spyware, adware, dialers, and browser hijackers from installing on your system by disabling the CLSIDs (a system used by software applications to identify a file or other item), of spyware ActiveX controls.

A secondary but equally important function offered by SpywareBlaster, is its ability to block spyware/tracking cookies and restrict the actions of spyware/adware/tracking sites in Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, Netscape, Seamonkey, Flock and other browsers.

SUPERAntiSpyware

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A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

One extra feature in this anti-malware product caught my attention; a repair function which allows the user to recover settings frequently wrecked by malware, and which are often not recoverable despite removal of the malware. These settings include Internet connections, lost desktops, the ability to edit the registry and frustratingly, access to the task manager.

The free version does not offer real-time protection.

ThreatFire

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Another powerful free tool from PC Tools , ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior (heuristics), instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

When ThreatFire detects a behavior based threat, it goes into analysis overdrive by comparing the threat against its signature database; those threats that are recognized by the database are quarantined immediately.

Unrecognized threats, or unrecognized behaviors, are assigned a calculated risk level (set by the user), at which point the user has the option of confirming, or blocking the action.This free antivirus program offers it’s comprehensive protection within an easy to use interface, and it should meet all of your requirements.

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Malware Removal Tips – Experience From the Trenches

Guest writer Mark Schneider gives you the best advice you’ll ever get on malware removal – “when it comes to malware removal, use a shotgun – not a rifle”.

image Cleaning an infected computer is a challenge. Unfortunately, malware writers are talented, and that translates into real trouble if your machine gets infected.

Many computers ship with large all-in-one security suites. These all-in-one programs look good on a checklist comparison in PC Magazine, but I prefer to use a variety of free programs from different vendors, each using a slightly different method of cleaning a machine, which gives you the best chance of finding all the bad files.

Recently, I had to deal with a Lenovo Thinkpad my daughter had been using – the laptop is a spare machine I use only occasionally, and had just been given a clean install of Windows XP.

After my daughter had finished using it, I did a routine scan using Malwarebytes, a very good free anti-spyware program. The initial scan found 15 infections, including some Rootkits, which can be very difficult to remove. Malwarebytes told me I needed to reboot the computer to finish the removal. I complied and rescanned.

Malwarebytes 1

Same results, same Trojans, same Rootkits, so I scanned with Microsoft’s Security Essentials, a new free anti-virus Microsoft recently released. Security Essentials found nothing at all, so I tried a new (to me) website, virustotal.com.

MS Security Essentials

Virustotal allows you to upload suspicious files to scan to determine if they are a threat or, possibly a false positive. I uploaded the file that was showing up the most frequently on the quick scans. Virustotal scans the file using over 40 different malware removal engines. Only one engine, McAfee Virus scan, found the file to be suspicious so I was beginning to think I might have a false positive. But, the fact that the file kept reappearing was very suspicious. Now I needed to get serious.

Virus Total 2

The next step was to run CCleaner a very good registry, and temporary file cleaner. CCleaner will make virus scans faster, and may delete files that are allowing a possible payload to reload when you restart the computer.

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After using CCleaner, I installed Superantispyware Free, a program that I always install as one as my primary tools to combat spyware. The fact that this computer was a fresh rebuild was the only reason I hadn’t installed it yet.

Installing and running Superantispyware goes very fast – it’s a great program that is the favorite of many computer technicians. Super lived up to its reputation, and found a number of problems, including one Trojan with multiple registry entries.

SuperAntispyware 1

Rebooting the machine after Superantispyware ran, finally yielded some results. Additional scans from Superantispyware, and Malwarebytes, came up clean.

My next test is to run HijackThis. HijackThis is a very powerful tool which must be handled with care. Installing HijackThis is simple; using it effectively is another story. The best method, for most people, is to run HijackThis and create a log file. Next, post this file to a web site where experts can parse your results and determine if you still have any suspicious files.

hijackthis

My preferred site is HijackThis.de – the site is primarily in German, but don’t let that deter you. They have a scanner which will scan your log file in real time and give you a good idea, right away, if HijackThis has found anything.

If you have run, and re-run your scanning tools, run a HijackThis, and everything comes up looking okay, you’re probably malware free. But for the next few reboots, you should continue to make sure your anti-malware programs are up to date, and keep rescanning periodically.

Most malware these days wants to hide in the background. You may be infected and never know your machine is stealing your passwords, and draining your bank account. So stay safe, keep your data backed up, and if you get infected, use as many tools as it takes to get secure again.

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level techie, to the blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Mark’s site today.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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