Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why I use the VIPRE to protect my PC against malware

Following the news about a "pig virus" or "swine" as the media call it, I want to share my experience on protecting my home PCs against computer viruses and various spyware.

All of you use PCs on a daily basis and if you work for the company, it is not your headache to protect the end-user PC. Your headache is at home (PC or laptop).Since the viruses/spyware penetration level got to the degree when one anti-virus program installed on PC is ABSOLUTELY not enough, I usually recommend installing 3-4 programs.

  • 1. Free ZoneAlarm Desktop Firewall

  • 2. Free AVG Anti-virus software

  • 3. Free SpyBot anti-spyware software

  • 4. Free AdAware Personal anti-spyware and ad-watch software

Note the word "Free". Until recently, I was pretty much happy with it - what is better than free? The AVG Anti-virus program delivered great results by discovering the spyware like Trojans, key loggers, etc. I use the P-2-P networks as many of us (Torrents, eMule, and similar), browse hundreds of web sites, and download various small and large programs for testing/implementing. As you may guess, I am getting enough of "bad stuff" on my PC that must be cleaned every day.

How do I use all these programs? First of all, two programs are running permanently (Firewall and AVG). Also, I use the other 2 programs weekly to verify how good AVG on removing viruses/spyware. Of course, you have to be very careful about timely updates since the number of viruses/spyware is growing on a daily basis. So, the update check is setup on "every 4 hrs".

As my hard drive grows in capacity, the time to clean up that "bad stuff" is becoming an issue. My AVG Anti-virus program takes about 22-23 hrs to scan both of my drives taking often up to 95% of the CPU cycles and slowing down my PC to the degree that I have to pause the scan when I need to use the PC. I also want to mention that the sizable chunk of memory used by AVG is taken away from my applications.

Recently I got an e-mail from Sunbelt Software Company about their new and advanced product called VIPRE. This product has a combined protection: AntiVirus + AntiSpyware. Isn’t it a time to check what is better than AVG? I have downloaded the PC version of the software for one month of evaluation (try before buy).

To my absolute surprise, the very first time the software ran on my PC, it has discovered 11 spyware programs hidden on my hard drive (and it is after AVG + Spybot + AdAware said that everything is clean!). Needless to say, I have begun respecting this software from the first day. The fact is that it is amazingly FASTER than any other protection program I ever tried (Avast!, Kaspersky, McAfee, Symantec, etc) and takes less PC memory resources.

I am at this end of my evaluation, and I will buy this software without hesitation. I believe that $29.95 is justifiable spending to protect my PC against the "bad stuff".

I have restricted my wife against using the commonly used "social networking" web sites from the PC where she does an online banking to pay for our bills. Why did I do it? I spent totally 9 hrs to clean up her PC from multiple variations of spyware (in spite of installed AVG)!

The problem is that many known "good" web sites are the source of as we call it "malware" (or malicious software). The primary example is a Facebook, not to mention several others. The hackers inject malicious software into the known and respectable web sites such as business or entertainment sites. When you point your browser to one of infected web sites you automatically download the malicious software that silently does its damage. The Antivirus program itself cannot protect you against this type of infections even with a real-time monitoring mode enabled.

I am sure you heard about "confiker" virus (see my blog at The millions of PCs worldwide are infected with this virus. It may sit on a hard drive for a long time doing nothing, however, when the hackers want they may upload to your PC any other malicious program (such as password stealers, other viruses, spyware) using the confiker virus as a carrier. Total damage of confiker is already estimated by 9.1 billion dollars worldwide, and this is not the end.

I have compiled the page about VIPRE. You can find it here:

Use it at your own discretion. My slogan is: "It's better to be cautious that sorry later".

Word of caution:
When you use multiple anti-malware programs, make sure they don’t conflict with each other. First of all, they may recognize the competing program as a malicious. Secondly, they often use the same areas of memory or control the same important files of your desktop operating system. If you do not temporary disable other anti-malicious programs while you ran the anti-virus or anti-spyware software your PC can be locked or even worse - the files will get corrupted.

If you want to install VIPRE, please UNINSTALL and REBOOT your PC or laptop before installation; and don’t forget to perform the regular backup of your important files (I hope you do it periodically, don’t you?).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What to do if you are infected with Confiker

Just to share waht I found:

1. Point your browser to or

If you are able to access the web site, your computer is probably not infected with Conficker as the worm blocks access to most security web sites. One symptom that may indicate you are infected is finding that your computer is blocked from accessing the web sites of most security companies.

2. If you have a computer that is infected, you will need to use an uninfected computer to download a specialized Conficker removal tool from. The tool is available here:

Advice to Stay Safe from the Worm:

1. Run a good security suite (I just began using VIPRE from Sunbelt software, and very pleased with it).
2. Keep your computer updated with the latest patches. If you don’t know how to do this, have someone help you set your system to update itself.
3. Don’t use “free” security scans that pop up on many web sites. Many of them are fake. In addition, some of them are using scare tactics to try to get you to purchase their “full” service. In many cases these are actually infecting you while they run. In accordance to some security pros, there is reason to believe that the creators of the Conficker worm are associated with some of these fake security products.
4. Turn off the “autorun” feature that will automatically run programs found on memory sticks and other USB devices.
5. Be smarter with your passwords:

1. Change your passwords periodically
2. Use complex passwords – no simple names or words, use special characters and numbers
3. Using a separate, longer password for each site that has sensitive personal information or access to your bank accounts or credit cards.

4. Use fingerprint readers (buy from Digital Persona - I love them). You can avoid typing (and any keylog software won't be able to capture it)

5. Use the multi-word passwords (for instance: "my buddies use rtek2000" or "security is not a measure but process"