Friday, 11 February 2011

I Spy With My Little Eye... Spyware !

I installed the tools you mentioned in
this post, but still seem to have been attacked by spyware. Que pasa? Aren't these tools as waterproof as you said?

Disclaimer: no tool is waterproof - or evil-proof if you prefer. Malware is written and set loose on the web before the anti-malware providers can create remedies. It's like a new mutation of viruses that cause the flu and colds: you can't really get a 100% sure thing inoculation for them.

But in your case, the root cause is different. As I asked you: how did you find out you actually had malware on your PC? The answer was: it was behaving erratically and, after spending a lot of time googling and installing and running another anti-malware software, it turned out your PC had been infected.

Mind you, I'm not saying the alternative software was worse or better than the ones I suggested.

I am, however, saying that it's important to get regular updates for your software. I don't mean the program, but the malware signatures that the program uses to detect culprits.

Some programs (like Avast!) automatically update their signatures. Others (like SpywareBlaster) do that if you obtain the paying version. For others (like Spybot Search&Destroy), you need to trigger that manually.

If you use Spybot Search&Destroy and/or the freeware version of SpywareBlaster, I recommend at least a weekly update. Why? Because I've never had a virus- or other malware infection and I religiously get my updates every week :)

Here's why your PC could get infected if you don't do regular updates:
  • Week 1: you install the anti-malware programs
  • Week 2: Doctor Evil releases a new virus/spyware/... onto the web
  • Week 3 part 1: you happen across an infected site (yes, just visiting a website can get you into trouble) or download and install infected software
  • Week 3 part 2: you're screwed and it's your own fault

Why is that your own fault? Because as it happens, shortly after Doctor Evil sent his new baby out, the good people who spend their time writing anti-malware programs, had caught that baby and had incorporated a remedy in their software. But you didn't download the updates, so your version of the program and/or its signatures database didn't know about the new offspring.

The cure: get your weekly updates in.

You might argue: what if I already fetched my updates but the new malware was propagated in between two update sessions? Good point. You can't spend all your time doing updates. You might get caught indeed in between two updates if bad luck strikes - it happens (but, so far, not to me :).

Also, these programs 'catch up'. If you'd have malware on your PC without knowing it, the next time (after an update was installed that sniffs it) you try to access it, it will get caught and won't be able to infect your PC.

Bottom line: install the programs, do the updates every week, and you're safe (or as safe as it gets out there).

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