Malware and Virus Removal

::UPDATED:: 4/17/14
The best post-infection removal success rate can be had by using a Rescue CD / USB.  Here are three that are free:
Bitdefender RescueCD
Kaspersky Rescue Disc 10
Avast! 2014
note: Avast! requires a full installation on an unaffected machine to download and create the ISO file.  Bitdefender and Kaspersky will let you download ISO files directly to burn to disc or create a bootable USB drive.  In addition, Bitdefender comes with Team Viewer for Linux pre-installed to allow easy remote desktop sharing for support.

Business Protection

The best real time protection for your business is the one that gives you a complete overview of your company network health.  I have found these two products to be the best in terms of features and confidently recommend Webroot Secure Anywhere for their great support.  Bitdefender does get the highest marks in online A/V tests.  However, I have found their tech support completely underwhelming, often taking days to respond to phone calls.
Webroot Secure Anywhere Endpoint Protection for Business
Bitdefender Cloud

The following is a round-up of many available free antivirus programs and malware removal tools.

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Preventing Computer Disasters

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -Benjamin Franklin

This old saying holds just as true in today’s modern world of electronics.  This short post will deal with a few simple steps to make sure your computer and your data are secure from disaster.  First, we will focus on making sure software is secure and up to date.  Second, I will discuss free antivirus and antimalware real time protection software. Third, I will rehash some best practices regarding passwords.  Finally, I will try to drive home the security hole of Java.

Keep Software Up-To-Date

Stop using Windows XP.  Period.  Technically, you still have one year of critical security updates left.  Microsoft will officially stop supporting Windows XP in April of 2014, a full TWELVE years after its original release.  But why wait until then?  Get your data backed up and either install a free operating system such as Ubuntu, install a paid upgrade of Windows 8 or 7 ($199), or purchase a new computer running Windows 8 for well south of $500.  Preventing a security breach and stolen identity is worth far more than the pain of a new computer system.
ENABLE WINDOWS UPDATE. Control PanelSystem and SecurityWindows Update – First, change the default setting of updates to also install updates for all Microsoft software  (not just Windows i.e. MS Office).  Once this is changed, the Windows Update window will read “You Receive Updates: For Windows and Other Products from Microsoft Update”.
Now click “Change Settings” in the left panel or go to Control PanelSystem and SecurityWindows UpdateChange settings & Choose “Install Updates Automatically“.  Also,    Laptop users might want to change the update frequency to “Check for Updates, but let me choose when to download and install them.”  This is especially true if you are using a metered 4G cellular connection.  If you do this, you MUST be sure to keep an eye out for the Windows System Update icon next to the System Clock.  Speaking of which…
Enable “Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar“.  Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsNotification Area Icons.  Check box for “Always Show”.  Taskbar icons are typically where applications will nag you to update them.  Do not ignore these icons.  Certain running programs minimize to this area as well, such as antivirus, sound settings, network settings, dropbox, boxcryptor, etc.   Get to know what should be there when everything is up to date and notice when something changes.
Last – use an automated software updater program.  Microsoft Windows Updates are wonderful at updating security fixes for the Operating System, Word, and Excel, but what about all those security updates to Java, Adobe, Firefox, etc?  Secunia software has a FREE application called Personal Software Inspector that can handle this automatically.
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Protecting Your Online Accounts

In the past months, every online web service appears to be a target for hacking or just plain old fashion social engineering.  LinkedIn passwords were hacked in June.  Yahoo leaked online account information in July.  Dropbox dropped the ball (again) in August.  An Amazon & iCloud social hack devastated an online blogger after a hacker took control, reset his iPhone, wiped his iPad, formatted his MacBook, and locked him out of his Gmail and Twitter accounts!
What we have learned is three fold:

  1. Never use the same password twice!
  2. Use “disposable” Credit Card numbers; or at the least, do not use the same credit card for Amazon as Apple.
  3. Always use Two Factor Authentication when available! Continue reading “Protecting Your Online Accounts”
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IE9 is the Current Most Secure Web Browser Against Socially Engineered Malware

ie9
IE9 is only available for Windows 7 (and Vista if you have to use that).  Don’t worry though XP users, IE8 is right behind at number 2 in the new malware study performed by NSS Labs.
NSS Labs Web Browser Group Test Socially-Engineered Malware 2011
IE9 also boasts some impressive browser speed improvements. With hardware accelerated video and graphics, IE9 is FAST.
See 9 reasons to get Internet Explorer and Download IE9
Also, make sure you read on how to use an add blocking add-on such as Simple-Adblock with Internet Explorer.  Now if only IE9 could sync bookmarks easily. Continue reading “IE9 is the Current Most Secure Web Browser Against Socially Engineered Malware”

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Configure Win7 Corporate VPN to Secure Public WiFi Browsing

The following are instructions on setting up a VPN connection to a corporate office specific to Windows 7.  In addition, the end of the article includes usage information on securing your web browsing when using public WiFi hotspots.  Using a VPN can encrypt passwords, web browsing, email, banking, etc, when connected and checked “use default gateway on remote network”.  This added security comes at the expense of increased network overhead and possibly slower browsing / download speeds.  The following instructions can be used by any of my offices running Windows server with modification to the line Internet Address: mail.YOURCOMPANYNAME.com.  If you do not know this information, contact me. If you do not have access to a corporate VPN, you can use any number of for pay services (and some free). Check out LifeHacker’s Top 5 VPN Services or just skip to the voter favorite WiTopia.
Click – StartControl PanelNetwork and InternetNetwork and Sharing Center –
networksharingcenter1
choose “Set up a new Connection or network”
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Safer Web Browsing with Adblock Plus and WOT

Often, when I am tasked with cleaning up a malware infected computer, I am asked “how did this happen?”   The quick answer is: the malware most likely made its way onto your computer through the web browser.  I recommend using Firefox with Adblock Plus and WOT (Web of Trust) for ‘safer’ web browsing.  Google Chrome browser also has these extensions available.
First, make sure your version of Firefox is the latest version.  Click FirefoxHelpAbout Firefox.  If you are already running version 4, it will automatically check for updates and may give you an option to Apply Update.  If you are not running Firefox 4, you need to be.  Click the link to download here:  http://www.getfirefox.com
firefox4about
Click Apply Update – Firefox 4.0.1 is the latest at the time of this post.
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Auto-Login Windows 7 Premium Account

Win7UserAccountPress the Windows key + R on your keyboard to launch the “Run” dialog box.
Type in ‘control userpasswords2’
Press Enter. The User Accounts window will display.
Uncheck the option “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer”
Click “OK”
Enter the current password and confirm it.

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