Monthly Archives: September 2012
When it comes to malware removal, Kaspersky is the best. The company earned an elusive six of six in the last two AV-Tests for malware removal and product of the year 2011 from AV-Comparatives.
This particular version of Kaspersky software does not include a safe browser, which is an isolated browser that can open websites in a virtual environment separate from your PC.
Kaspersky continues to outperform its competitors. It can deliver nearly 100-percent protection from malware and can completely remove most malware from your PC.
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A computer virus is a computer program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another. The term “virus” is also commonly, but erroneously, used to refer to other types of malware, including but not limited to adware and spyware programs that do not have a reproductive ability.
Malware includes computer viruses, computer worms, Trojan horses, most rootkits, spyware, dishonest adware and other malicious or unwanted software, including true viruses. Viruses are sometimes confused with worms and Trojan horses, which are technically different. A worm can exploit security vulnerabilities to spread itself automatically to other computers through networks, while a Trojan horse is a program that appears harmless but hides malicious functions. Worms and Trojan horses, like viruses, may harm a computer system’s data or performance. Some viruses and other malware have symptoms noticeable to the computer user, but many are surreptitious or simply do nothing to call attention to themselves. Some viruses do nothing beyond reproducing themselves.
An example of a virus which is not a malware, but is putatively benevolent, is Fred Cohen’s theoretical compression virus. However, antivirus professionals do not accept the concept of benevolent viruses, as any desired function can be implemented without involving a virus (automatic compression, for instance, is available under the Windows operating system at the choice of the user). Any virus will by definition make unauthorised changes to a computer, which is undesirable even if no damage is done or intended. On page one of Dr Solomon’s Virus Encyclopaedia, the undesirability of viruses, even those that do nothing but reproduce, is thoroughly explained.
Spyware is a type of malware (malicious software) installed on computers that collects information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user and can be difficult to detect. Some spyware, such as keyloggers, may be installed by the owner of a shared, corporate, or public computer intentionally in order to monitor users.
While the term spyware suggests software that monitors a user’s computing, the functions of spyware can extend beyond simple monitoring. Spyware can collect almost any type of data, including personal information like Internet surfing habits, user logins, and bank or credit account information. Spyware can also interfere with user control of a computer by installing additional software or redirecting Web browsers. Some spyware can change computer settings, which can result in slow Internet connection speeds, un-authorized changes in browser settings, or changes to software settings.
Sometimes, spyware is included along with genuine software, and may come from an official software vendor. In response to the emergence of spyware, a small industry has sprung up dealing in anti-spyware software. Running anti-spyware software has become a widely recognized element of computer security practices for computers, especially those running Microsoft Windows. A number of jurisdictions have passed anti-spyware laws, which usually target any software that is surreptitiously installed to control a user’s computer.
Routes of infection
Spyware does not directly spread in the same way as a virus or worm because infected systems generally do not attempt to transmit or copy the software to other computers. Instead, spyware installs itself on a system through deception of the user, or through exploitation of software vulnerabilities.
Most spyware is installed without users’ knowledge, or by using deceptive tactics. Spyware may try deceive users by bundling itself with desirable software. Other common tactics are using a Trojan horse. Some spyware authors infect a system through security holes in the Web browser or in other software. When the user navigates to a Web page controlled by the spyware author, the page contains code which attacks the browser and forces the download and installation of spyware.
The installation of spyware frequently involves Internet Explorer. Its popularity and history of security issues have made it a frequent target. Its deep integration with the Windows environment make it susceptible to attack into the Windows operating system. Internet Explorer also serves as a point of attachment for spyware in the form of Browser Helper Objects, which modify the browser’s behavior to add toolbars or to redirect traffic.
Effects and behaviors
A spyware program is rarely alone on a computer: an affected machine usually has multiple infections. Users frequently notice unwanted behavior and degradation of system performance. A spyware infestation can create significant unwanted CPU activity, disk usage, and network traffic. Stability issues, such as applications freezing, failure to boot, and system-wide crashes, are also common. Spyware, which interferes with networking software, commonly causes difficulty connecting to the Internet.
In some infections, the spyware is not even evident. Users assume in those situations that the performance issues relate to faulty hardware, Windows installation problems, or another infection. Some owners of badly infected systems resort to contacting technical support experts, or even buying a new computer because the existing system “has become too slow”. Badly infected systems may require a clean re-installation of all their software in order to return to full functionality.
Moreover, some types of spyware disable software firewalls and anti-virus software, and/or reduce browser security settings, which further open the system to further opportunistic infections. Some spyware disables or even removes competing spyware programs, on the grounds that more spyware-related annoyances make it even more likely that users will take action to remove the programs.
A typical Windows user has administrative privileges, mostly for convenience. Because of this, any program the user runs has unrestricted access to the system. As with other operating systems, Windows users are able to follow the principle of least privilege and use non-administrator accounts. Alternatively, they can also reduce the privileges of specific vulnerable Internet-facing processes such as Internet Explorer.
In Windows Vista, by default, a computer administrator runs everything under limited user privileges. When a program requires administrative privileges, Vista will prompt the user with an allow/deny pop-up (see User Account Control). This improves on the design used by previous versions of Windows.
Remedies and prevention
As the spyware threat has worsened, a number of techniques have emerged to counteract it. These include programs designed to remove or block spyware, as well as various user practices which reduce the chance of getting spyware on a system.
Nonetheless, spyware remains a costly problem. When a large number of pieces of spyware have infected a Windows computer, the only remedy may involve backing up user data, and fully reinstalling the operating system. For instance, some spyware cannot be completely removed by Symantec, Microsoft, PC Tools.
Malware, short for malicious software, is software used or created to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software. ‘Malware’ is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software.
Malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs. In law, malware is sometimes known as a computer contaminant, as in the legal codes of several U.S. states. Malware is not the same as defective software, which is software that has a legitimate purpose but contains harmful bugs that were not noticed before release. However, some malware is disguised as genuine software, and may come from an official company website. An example of this is software used for harmless purposes that is packed with additional tracking software that gathers marketing statistics.
Malware has caused the rise in use of protective software types such as anti virus, anti-malware, and firewalls. Each of these are commonly used by personal users and corporate networks in order to stop the unauthorized access by other computer users, as well as the automated spread of malicious scripts and software.
Many early infectious programs, including the first Internet Worm, were written as experiments or pranks. Today, malware is used primarily to steal sensitive personal, financial, or business information for the benefit of others.
Malware is sometimes used broadly against government or corporate websites to gather guarded information, or to disrupt their operation in general. However, malware is often used against individuals to gain personal information such as social security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, and so on. Left un-guarded, personal and networked computers can be at considerable risk against these threats. (These are most frequently counter-acted by various types of firewalls, anti virus software, and network hardware).
Since the rise of widespread broadband Internet access, malicious software has more frequently been designed for profit. Since 2003, the majority of widespread viruses and worms have been designed to take control of users’ computers for black-market exploitation. Infected “zombie computers” are used to send email spam, to host contraband data such as child pornography, or to engage in distributed denial-of-service attacks as a form of extortion. Other strictly for-profit category of malware has emerged, called spyware. These programs are designed to monitor users’ web browsing, display unsolicited advertisements, or redirect affiliate marketing revenues to the spyware creator. Spyware programs do not spread like viruses; instead they are generally installed by exploiting security holes. They can also be packaged together with user-installed software, such as peer-to-peer application.
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