In the last month, 5 customers have called me about a parasite called MS Antivirus 2009. MS Antivirus 2009, and others in its sick family tree like XP Antivirus 2008, are infecting Windows computers at an alarming rate. All of my customers had modern, up to date antivirus programs installed and they still got it. Ouch!
The first sign of an infection by MS Antivirus 2009 is usually this: a window opens on the computer that looks just like the Windows Security Center and it claims that you have no virus or spyware protection installed. This usually gets the user's attention and leads to the opening of a scanner that tells the user that they are infected with a number of things. This is usually followed by an offer - give some money and this software product, MS Antivirus 2009 will remove the problem. Two of my customers believed this ruse enough to offer up their credit cards. And guess what - the problem didn't go away. It actually got worse. The result was a computer with disabled menus, no access to utilities in the control panel, the deletion of system restore saved states, popups, and system reboots. So, you just can't use your computer.
In my experience, one of the best sources of information on a virus or parasite is a Google search. I can often find loads of useful information very quickly and be well on my way to removing a pesky varmint. This was not the case with MS Antivirus. A Google search does lead to several pieces of information, but many of the hits end up on web sites claiming to be able to remove MS Antivirus but for a fee. They offer a download link to a free scanner, but when you want to remove the pest, they want money. Gosh, doesn't that sound an awful lot like the parasite that we just discussed? Call me paranoid, but doesn't it make you wonder that the vendors detecting this parasite and selling a solution to its removal may just have something to do with the problem. The availability of these solutions is just too convenient, and for me, hard to trust.
Here's my recommendation: In the business of fixing computers, I've learned that customers want simple solutions - keep the cost down and guarantee that the pest is gone. I can't trust these no name spyware scanners. I can't trust registry hacks and file deletions. My approach is to fix MS Antivirus infections the old fashion way. Remove all important data from the PC; format the hard drive; reinstall the operating system, applications, and virus protection; and then put the data back. All in all, it takes about 2 to 3 hours of work, but I can guarantee a good result.
One additional note: If you see the first signs of an infection which is usually a popup window that looks like Microsoft's Windows Secutiry Center claiming that you don't have virus protection, don't click on anything related to it. Go right to system restore and restore your PC back to a previous date. If you can do this, you will be one of the lucky ones like my friend David.
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