It’s been a few months since my mother’s computer started to be very lazy and stubborn. It looked like the computer had its own will and didn’t care about the user and his wishes.Things being clicked and not working, restarting itself or closing suddenly, the general “freeze” attitude of the computer made me suspect there’s an infection around.

So far I couldn’t find time to investigate and to go to the root of the problem because I had to solve particular issues in order to keep my mother “wired”. But 2 days ago I said…mother, let’s clean up your computer!

I started by connecting to her computer using TeamViewer (a free tool used for remote connection ) and I looked to see if there’s  an anti-virus solution installed. There was installed a non-functional version of Norton(I didn’t bother to find out why it didn’t work) so the first thing I did was to throw it out!

I checked to see the free space available. There were 5GB on drive C and 14GB on drive E. So, it wasn’t a free space issue. It’s really important to make sure that your computer isn’t overloaded.Some people forget that the computer also has to “breathe”.(that means that it needs some space for its background processes)

Then, I struggled to connect to the internet. I decided to do first an online scan. I chose the Quick Scan from BitDefender because I knew it will only take for 30 seconds. I found a lot of trojans and worms. No wonder the computer acted so strange!

I downloaded BitDefender Internet Security 2009(it’s my favorite anti-virus solution) with 30 days of trial and I scanned again the computer. It took all night long, because there were so many files and archives and the computer was itself very slow .So many viruses were found, worms and trojan, that I was surprised to see  the computer still running.

Some of the security issues were fixed right away, but others didn’t. That’s what happens when you don’t have pro-active protection!In fact, some nasty worms were eating the insides of my mother’s Windows. Of course, disinfecting such a file means pretty much deleting it, which is really dangerous when we’re talking about a system file.

The anti-virus did worn me about the possibility  of harming the operating system but  I didn’t pay any attention to that message.  Very big mistake!

 

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An anti-virus, as the name suggests, is a computer program which fights the viruses (and wins, hopefully!). But cleaning up the mess a virus left in your computer is not as easy as causing trouble. Mainly, an anti-virus should be able to perform the following tasks:
• Search for computer viruses
• Identify a virus by its signature(or other criteria)
• Eliminate a virus (delete or at least isolate it)

Of course, things are a little bit more complicated than that, but this is the base line.
This raises the question: “What is so complicated in creating a good anti-virus? Why so many anti-virus solutions claim to assure the best possible protection, yet nobody can say with certainty that a specific program is the best?”

I though about it for a while, I red a lot, and now I think I have an answer: it’s all about mathematics!!! Every anti-virus solution is based on algorithms. Each algorithm has in background a mathematical support. The more complicated the algorithm is, the harder for the computer to process it. The more resources the processor uses with the anti-virus the less resource remains available for the usual task that the computer has to do.

That’s why there are so many companies out there producing anti-virus software, because there are so many different approaches when dealing with computer viruses. Some base their algorithms on efficiency. That means catching all the viruses or other vicious creatures inside your computer. Others care more about not killing the computer while saving its life, so to speak. It’s understandable, as a perfectly protected computer that can’t perform any task is for no use.

To conclude, it’s a thin red line between an efficient anti-virus and a dead-wasting solution. For us, the users it’s a hard choice to make, because we have access only to what the producer wants us to know about its product, he always underlines only the best features(through marketing) but never tells us about the flaws.Still, a weak anti-virus is better than no anti-virus!!!

I have always been fascinated with viral beings, those invisible threats that make me sick all the time(as I am a very sensible human being!). It’s so frustrating to see the results(the illness) and not to be able to see the cause(the virus)!!!
When I found out that computers get sick too I said to myself :” I need to find a way to protect my computer from those naughty viruses!!!I cannot let my computer stay in bed for a week and feed him chicken soup until he get’s better!!!”
At that time I was just a little girl and I believed that the antivirus is somehow an universal cure for computer viruses. Soon after that I found out that, in computer world as in real life, there is no such thing as an universal medicine.
Enough about me!Let’s talk a little bit about viruses!!

First of all, what is a computer virus? Simply put, it’s a program that replicates itself.During that process it might also do something else, that damages your computer. But not every piece of program that harms a program is a virus. Anyone could write a program that earases some important file, for example, but that would happen only if the program is executed. So, when I see that the program does something bad, I erase it and nothing else bad happens.

The key aspect about viruses is that they reproduce themselves without the permision of anybody.Tipically, a computer virus attaches itself or rides on the back of another program in order to facilitate reproduction.These copies of the program may later be executed to create more copies, ad infinitum.

Still, the term “virus” is a misnomer. It was used for the first time in 1985 by Fred Cohen in his graduate thesis, in which he approached the subject of self-reproducing software and its ability to harm security systems. We use today the same term to describe bad programs, because it’s a natural way, also very intuitive. There were some proposals for alternative naming, like “living programs” or “self-reproducing automaton” but the initial term was already out there and people got used to it.
If you’re not much into the IT industry you might confuse viruses with other malware. It’s true, virus is also a generic term which includes all the harmfull software that we can possibly imagine.To be more accurate, use instead the term “malware” so that you can diferentiate between viruses, trojan horses, worms and other types of computer harming software.
To conclude, a virus is a program that replicates ad infinitum and usualy does something bad to your computer, while reproducing or at a different time, as planned(by the programmer which created it).

In my experience with computer viruses I found some really inteligent viruses, hard to detect and also with a lot of creativity in harming computers. In present you…the conficker…

Technically, it is not a virus but a computer worm. Nobody know exactly what’s his behavior, but the thing is it knows how to stay hidden. The way to detect it is pretty simple…If you find that you can’t acces the official site of an antivirus, try another one and if that doesn’t work too that means that you have been infected with the not so very nice conficker!

Basically, the worm keeps you from accesing some site, like microsoft’s…that stops you from updating your windows and get help with and antivirus, for example.

Now I realize that I had this worm for a while and when I needed the use of MSDN, all Microsoft’s where down. I was really surprised to see that such a big company allows his servers no to work properly. I never taught there could be a problem outside Microsoft’s business. But I accidently found out about the conficker…then, I tried to acces the site of one antivirus solution provider and nothing happened…

I searched online for information about how to get rid of this awful worm but I only found out how damaging and intelligent it is. When I was about to format my computer(and loose everything!!!) I found out that there is a removal tool for conficker. I also found a video of how to use the tool and since last night my computer is healty again:)…

This is the youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frxjQYA389Q I was talking about. It only takes you about 10 minutes so, don’t delay…find the worm and kill the bastard!!!