Hi my little Guppies! DaddyFish here with this week's Fish-Bites column!

Ahhhh-CHOO! Cough, cough!

No, that wasn't me sneezing, it was my computer.

Oh, man! How do I know if my computer caught a "virus"?

First, it's important to explain different types of "Virii"...most are technically not virus's at all and do no harm to your computer but can cause it to run amazingly slow and throw unwanted popup ads and open undesirable browser windows. But all are essentially programs that have been unwittingly (and certainly unwillingly) implanted on your system, usually by a malicious website who participates in Guerilla Marketing Tactics. They take their sponsors ads, which they get paid for to distribute, and force them upon you using programming that your browser recognizes and follows it's instructions. Internet Exploder is the worst of these and the most at risk. A great free alternative is Firefox, distributed by Mozilla...you can get it free and safe at http://www.mozilla.com - it works with Windows, Mac, Linux...just about all operating systems. It's what I use.

OK, that was a lot to digest. So let's break it down into different "types" of virus's... but before I begin, I just want to say if you're using Inernet Explorer, two words can fix most of your security issues: STOP IT! (more about that later)..... now, on to the good stuff... here's a few definitions of various "virii"...

BROSWER HIJACKERS

This applies to all browsers.

So you've got your browser just the way you want it. When you click HOME it brings you right to your email inbox. When you do a search it uses Google. Everything's cool. But this morning, after surfing for a new bathing suit last night, you open your browser and it goes right to a dating site for people with foot fetishes! So you do a quick search for "free virus removal" and up pops some search page you've never seen before, loaded with advertisements. WTH?!?!?

You got hijacked. Don't freak-out - It won't do any damage, other than cause mild to moderate frustration in setting things back the way they were and running some free software that will remove what caused it in the first place. In short, one of the websites you visited recently planted some code that reset your browser's preferences to ones that they or their advertisers wanted.

MALWARE

Man, this is probably the worst of all, aside from a really destructive virus' that will make you completely rebuild your system. Malware is just what it sounds like. Malicious software. Most times, but not always, you get this by looking for "free stuff" - most often "free porn" and even anti-virus software that dupes you into downloading their "awesome" product for free, "fix or speed up your computer for free" and yes, even some of those "free malware removal" tools. Believe it or not, there are some people out there whose goal in life is point out flaws in an operating system's security or want to force their programs upon you without your consent enclosed in another seemingly "awesom" program. So, they write this stuff and sgive it away under the guise of being a tool to fix what ails ya. For example, many of these companies, like "FixMyPC.com" will let you download their software for free. You run it and it finds 2,372 errors, most of which are "critical" on your system. But for $39.95 it can fix all of them with one click. These have been tested on brand-new new systems and under technical conditions and found to report false errors in an attempt to frighten you into spending money when nothing is wrong with your system at all.

Another example is having popup windows open randomly (and often) while you're online, advertising anything and everything. It's like getting air-bombed by billboards.

Malware can be tough to remove because it sometimes adds things to your operating system's registry (a registry is like a set of instruction it performs that are critical to it's running properly and you shouldn't mess with unless you know what you're doing) and can keep coming back to life like a zombie that can't be killed).

ZOMBIE TAKEOVER!
This is a harsh one. Malicious users can write and implant code that you don't even notice but takes over your computer and eats it's brain for lunch, letting that Zombie's owner have partaial or even full control over your system. And not just your bank account info or passwords that you may have stored....but to actually use your computer as a "zombie" to commit federal crimes! It's kind of like hop-scotch...your computer is jsut a zombie on a worldwide network, often called a "bot net" and receives and then relays information from and to other unwitting computers for whatever purpose the originators want. Yes, cyber-terrorism is amongst us and you may become an unwilling participant without even knowing it.

Lately you may have heard of the security flaw in Windows XP and how Microsoft is likely going to send out a "patch" to fix it. This has more to do with using Internet Explorer than it does by using XP. Windows XP is actually a very good operating system. And while every operating system has it's "holes" in security, Microsoft is targeted most by hackers because it and IE are the most vulnerable and widely used. It used to be said (and even ads run by Apple) that Mac's don't get virus' and that's just not true (hence the removal of those ads). They simply weren't targeted as often because of their very limited userbase, which is quickly changing as we've seen over the last few years.

ADWARE
This isn't really a virus at all, but is often included in what you found and downloaded for free to use. You'll see it in the "EULA", or End User License Agreement. You know, the fine-print part that nobody ever reads and just clicks the "Accept" button to in an effort to try their new toy.

Adware is advertisement that companies pay the software company (the software that you are getting for "free") to include their ads in that companie's software...like, when you open a trial of something, say Photoshop, and it always pops up a window asking you to buy this or that addon or upgrade or even another completely different unrelated product. This is also sometimes called "NagWare" and it's how some companies get paid for their product.

SPYWARE
Spyware is just what it sounds like. It's known as "trading tracking for services" ...in short, you've gotten infected with code that gathers information from your computer - the sites you visit, your emails, your documents...anything and everything. It can really slow things down for you and you have no idea why your computer is running like molasses going uphill in the wintertime. It too can be difficult to remove (like malware) as it often will make alterations to your system's registry allowing it to be reborn again and again.

TRIALWARE
This isn't a bad one, but kind of unfair. You've just bought your new computer and are thrilled that it came with "free" Norton or McAffee anti-virus software and even Microsoft's latest version of Office. All seems great!

90 days later, everytime you turn on your computer you see that Windows is telling you that your security is at risk...and another telling you to solve the problem by paying for Norton now (or McAfee). Same thing with Office and other bundled software that was included with your purchase. WTH? I thought it came free with my computer! Welcome to "trialware". It's just what it sounds like...it's a try before you buy gimmick, add-ons that many retailers use to get you thinking you're getting bang for the buck. This is how those companies try and scare you into buying their products.

Also, and just a bit of geek-speak here, but both Norton and McAfee are considered by most of us geeks as "bloatware". Programs that function well, but use up a lot of unnecessary resources and slowing things down in the end.[/b]

NOW THAT I'VE SCARED THE CARP OUT OF YOU...

(gettit? DaddyFish...Carp...it wasn't a typo...oh, nevermind, LOL)


Those are all simple explanations and descriptions of what many call computer virus'. I just wanted to educate you on the different types and what they (can) do.

So, how do you remove these "virus' " and prevent yourself from getting them again? Stay tuned for next week's Fish Bites column, where I'll offer you some great, safe programs...and all are 100% free! We'll also explore other operating systems where EVERYTHING is 100% free (or, aptly called, "freeware" or "OpenSource", such as Linux, OS2 and others).

(On the news, they call that a "teaser", lol)...See y'all then!

-DaddyFish
DaddyFish wrote: Hi my little Guppies! DaddyFish here with this week's Fish-Bites column!

Ahhhh-CHOO! Cough, cough!

No, that wasn't me sneezing, it was my computer.

Oh, man! How do I know if my computer caught a "virus"?

First, it's important to explain different types of "Virii"...most are technically not virus's at all and do no harm to your computer but can cause it to run amazingly slow and throw unwanted popup ads and open undesirable browser windows. But all are essentially programs that have been unwittingly (and certainly unwillingly) implanted on your system, usually by a malicious website who participates in Guerilla Marketing Tactics. They take their sponsors ads, which they get paid for to distribute, and force them upon you using programming that your browser recognizes and follows it's instructions. Internet Exploder is the worst of these and the most at risk. A great free alternative is Firefox, distributed by Mozilla...you can get it free and safe at http://www.mozilla.com - it works with Windows, Mac, Linux...just about all operating systems. It's what I use.

OK, that was a lot to digest. So let's break it down into different "types" of virus's... but before I begin, I just want to say if you're using Inernet Explorer, two words can fix most of your security issues: STOP IT! (more about that later)..... now, on to the good stuff... here's a few definitions of various "virii"...

BROSWER HIJACKERS

This applies to all browsers.

So you've got your browser just the way you want it. When you click HOME it brings you right to your email inbox. When you do a search it uses Google. Everything's cool. But this morning, after surfing for a new bathing suit last night, you open your browser and it goes right to a dating site for people with foot fetishes! So you do a quick search for "free virus removal" and up pops some search page you've never seen before, loaded with advertisements. WTH?!?!?

You got hijacked. Don't freak-out - It won't do any damage, other than cause mild to moderate frustration in setting things back the way they were and running some free software that will remove what caused it in the first place. In short, one of the websites you visited recently planted some code that reset your browser's preferences to ones that they or their advertisers wanted.

MALWARE

Man, this is probably the worst of all, aside from a really destructive virus' that will make you completely rebuild your system. Malware is just what it sounds like. Malicious software. Most times, but not always, you get this by looking for "free stuff" - most often "free porn" and even anti-virus software that dupes you into downloading their "awesome" product for free, "fix or speed up your computer for free" and yes, even some of those "free malware removal" tools. Believe it or not, there are some people out there whose goal in life is point out flaws in an operating system's security or want to force their programs upon you without your consent enclosed in another seemingly "awesom" program. So, they write this stuff and sgive it away under the guise of being a tool to fix what ails ya. For example, many of these companies, like "FixMyPC.com" will let you download their software for free. You run it and it finds 2,372 errors, most of which are "critical" on your system. But for $39.95 it can fix all of them with one click. These have been tested on brand-new new systems and under technical conditions and found to report false errors in an attempt to frighten you into spending money when nothing is wrong with your system at all.

Another example is having popup windows open randomly (and often) while you're online, advertising anything and everything. It's like getting air-bombed by billboards.

Malware can be tough to remove because it sometimes adds things to your operating system's registry (a registry is like a set of instruction it performs that are critical to it's running properly and you shouldn't mess with unless you know what you're doing) and can keep coming back to life like a zombie that can't be killed).

ZOMBIE TAKEOVER!
This is a harsh one. Malicious users can write and implant code that you don't even notice but takes over your computer and eats it's brain for lunch, letting that Zombie's owner have partaial or even full control over your system. And not just your bank account info or passwords that you may have stored....but to actually use your computer as a "zombie" to commit federal crimes! It's kind of like hop-scotch...your computer is jsut a zombie on a worldwide network, often called a "bot net" and receives and then relays information from and to other unwitting computers for whatever purpose the originators want. Yes, cyber-terrorism is amongst us and you may become an unwilling participant without even knowing it.

Lately you may have heard of the security flaw in Windows XP and how Microsoft is likely going to send out a "patch" to fix it. This has more to do with using Internet Explorer than it does by using XP. Windows XP is actually a very good operating system. And while every operating system has it's "holes" in security, Microsoft is targeted most by hackers because it and IE are the most vulnerable and widely used. It used to be said (and even ads run by Apple) that Mac's don't get virus' and that's just not true (hence the removal of those ads). They simply weren't targeted as often because of their very limited userbase, which is quickly changing as we've seen over the last few years.

ADWARE
This isn't really a virus at all, but is often included in what you found and downloaded for free to use. You'll see it in the "EULA", or End User License Agreement. You know, the fine-print part that nobody ever reads and just clicks the "Accept" button to in an effort to try their new toy.

Adware is advertisement that companies pay the software company (the software that you are getting for "free") to include their ads in that companie's software...like, when you open a trial of something, say Photoshop, and it always pops up a window asking you to buy this or that addon or upgrade or even another completely different unrelated product. This is also sometimes called "NagWare" and it's how some companies get paid for their product.

SPYWARE
Spyware is just what it sounds like. It's known as "trading tracking for services" ...in short, you've gotten infected with code that gathers information from your computer - the sites you visit, your emails, your documents...anything and everything. It can really slow things down for you and you have no idea why your computer is running like molasses going uphill in the wintertime. It too can be difficult to remove (like malware) as it often will make alterations to your system's registry allowing it to be reborn again and again.

TRIALWARE
This isn't a bad one, but kind of unfair. You've just bought your new computer and are thrilled that it came with "free" Norton or McAffee anti-virus software and even Microsoft's latest version of Office. All seems great!

90 days later, everytime you turn on your computer you see that Windows is telling you that your security is at risk...and another telling you to solve the problem by paying for Norton now (or McAfee). Same thing with Office and other bundled software that was included with your purchase. WTH? I thought it came free with my computer! Welcome to "trialware". It's just what it sounds like...it's a try before you buy gimmick, add-ons that many retailers use to get you thinking you're getting bang for the buck. This is how those companies try and scare you into buying their products.

Also, and just a bit of geek-speak here, but both Norton and McAfee are considered by most of us geeks as "bloatware". Programs that function well, but use up a lot of unnecessary resources and slowing things down in the end.[/b]

NOW THAT I'VE SCARED THE CARP OUT OF YOU...

(gettit? DaddyFish...Carp...it wasn't a typo...oh, nevermind, LOL)


Those are all simple explanations and descriptions of what many call computer virus'. I just wanted to educate you on the different types and what they (can) do.

So, how do you remove these "virus' " and prevent yourself from getting them again? Stay tuned for next week's Fish Bites column, where I'll offer you some great, safe programs...and all are 100% free! We'll also explore other operating systems where EVERYTHING is 100% free (or, aptly called, "freeware" or "OpenSource", such as Linux, OS2 and others).

(On the news, they call that a "teaser", lol)...See y'all then!

-DaddyFish


Brilliant DF!!
Excellent. You described it in a way, newbies can grasp. Well done.
Laurie
Thank you DF! I use Mozilla Firefox too. Going to keep my eye on your blog. Your explanations are easy to understand. You're a good teacher. :D
Four years ago I did a calculation

Every time my computer got plagued by those types of things as well as affected BIOS it cost me a fortune to get it fixed. Sometimes it would even be required to change computers.

I subscribed to AVG which is a corporate protection. They automatically install all up to date stuff and stop any of that nonsense. The computer does not slow down and in four years I have had no problems at all.

Price wise cheaper than one incident. As long as they get their annual fee that is it.

My 2 cents ...........Mutley?

Image
DaddyFish,

Morton1 is having a problem, I am hoping you can help her.  She will probably contact you.

Jessy 
Broadcaster wrote: Four years ago I did a calculation

Every time my computer got plagued by those types of things as well as affected BIOS it cost me a fortune to get it fixed. Sometimes it would even be required to change computers.

I subscribed to AVG which is a corporate protection. They automatically install all up to date stuff and stop any of that nonsense. The computer does not slow down and in four years I have had no problems at all.

Price wise cheaper than one incident. As long as they get their annual fee that is it.

My 2 cents ...........Mutley?

Image


AVG is excellent software....and they even have a free version, which I will suggest in my next column. Great choice, broadcaster!
Jessy wrote: DaddyFish,

Morton1 is having a problem, I am hoping you can help her.  She will probably contact you.

Jessy 


I'll do what I can to help. Best way to contact me is through direct email, donebythefish@yahoo.com - if the email is relative to the convo here, I'll likely use it in a forthcoming column. Thanks, Jessy! And thanks for suggesting doing this column, I'm having a lot of fun with it! :)
seashells wrote: Thank you DF! I use Mozilla Firefox too. Going to keep my eye on your blog. Your explanations are easy to understand. You're a good teacher. :D


Thank You!! :)