The other day I saw an amusing bumper sticker that read: "As a computer, I find your faith in technology amusing."
Honestly, I do have faith in technology. It's the person pounding the keyboard that scares me. Seriously, one would think that if they never opened a single questionable e-mail, went to any bad Web sites, even by accident, and had no idea what Facebook, YouTube or MySpace are, would be safe from any harmful activity on the computer, right? Wrong! Spyware and more importantly, Ransomeware can infect nearly any computer at any time.
In the past few weeks I have seen a resurgence in an old Ransomeware called Anti-Virus 2009 (previously Anti-Virus 2008). This new strain of has been reinforced to be even more destructive to the operating files and your personal data if left unchecked.
Here is how to tell if you are infected and what to do if you are.
In the lower right-hand corner of the desktop, down by the time, if you continually get a popup saying something to effect of "Your computer has been infected with a virus. Click here to remove the virus, " you are most definitely infected. If you want to throw away $50 and not solve the problem, go right ahead and click where you are directed, but if you want to get rid of this destructive software and protect your computer from it coming back, you can use Super AntiSpyware, which can be downloaded free at www.superantispyware.com. It is one of the best tools we currently have to detect and remove spyware and protect the computer. It also happens to be free, which is a great bonus.
Download the program by walking through the steps on the Web site and click "Run" when you get the opportunity and allow the program to install on your computer. When finished you will be asked if you want to check for updates. Click "OK" and let the program update itself. When finished, the program will close. Go to the desktop and click on the "Super Antispyware" icon, click "Scan My Computer," then click "Next" once. Walk away for about 20 minutes and when the program is done, all the spyware will be displayed. Place a check in every box that is not checked and click "Next" to remove everything. Reboot if requested.
You may be able to save yourself a repair charge by doing this simple operation.
Am I trying to scare you? Maybe a little, but I need to impress upon everyone the destructiveness of this software. If it is detected and deleted right away there is seldom much damage to the operating system that cannot be corrected with a simple registry clean or "Check Disk." If the software remains on the machine for any length of time, it will begin to damage the operating files to a point where the only solution is to save all the irreplaceable data, format and reinstall the operating system (OSRI, which is short for Operating System Re-Install or Oh, So Really Inconvenient).
I had a new client this week that said he had read a previous PC Made EZ column and was going to install Super AntiSpyware but never got around to it. I removed 901 viruses, 1475 Spyware programs and corrected 1295 Registry errors. So read and heed or keep my e-mail address or phone number handy.
Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services and lives in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (480) 753-7667.