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How to use MalwareBytes Antimalware – a tutorial

MalwareBytes’ Antimalware (MBAM) is a stunning performance free program that detects and repairs many known viruses and spyware.  When used in conjunction with other products it helps to form a strong barrier against known malware threats (viruses, spyware, trojans, worms etc).

How to use MalwareBytes’ Antimalware

Once a week if possible scan your pc by selecting Start, All Programs, MalwareBytes’ Antimalware, MalwareBytes Antimalware.  When the program opens select Update, Check for Updates then select Scanner, tick ‘Perform full scan’, and click on ‘Scan’.  At the end of the scan, a box pops up saying ‘The scan completed successfully’.  Click on OK then ‘Show results’.  Any infections are listed here with a tick next to them.  Simply click on ‘Remove selected’ to remove them.  Close the logfile (the text report) and reboot the PC

Most asked questions (I answer these virtually every day!)

Do I need to scan weekly without fail?

You don’t need to scan if you haven’t used the PC.  Weekly scans or when you have downloaded an installation program are very important.

Why do I need this if I have an antivirus program, eg AVG or Norton?

An antivirus gets rid of viruses and often some spyware, this program excels at malware (trojans, worms, spyware, adware) removal and detection.  Use the 2 programs combined for optimal protection.

Do the programs clash?

No. MBAM coexists with the majority of software quite happily

Why is it free?

It’s free because there is also a paid version of MalwareBytes that auto-updates and scans in ‘real time’

Is it really that good?

Oh yes, it’s currently the best-of-breed antimalware scanner.

Identity theft – how to protect yourself

Credit card identity theftThere is an increasing amount of identity theft which I am seeing on customer PCs.  To combat this I have put together a list of dos and don’ts so that you can protect yourself from current threats and keep aware of the basic protection methods.

Firstly, ensure that your antivirus and antimalware scans are running regularly. There best way to do this is to know what antivirus programs you have and know how to update them and then initiate a scan.

There seems to be a huge increase in fake bank emails and telephone calls at present, so please follow these simple rules:

  • Never reply to an email from your bank asking you to update your details – this is always a scam.
  • Never speak to a person over the telephone about your account if they phone you, no matter how convincing. Always ensure that YOU telephone your bank on a known number before giving any details.
  • Never give out your credit card PIN number (the one you tap into the cash machine) either online or by telephone.
  • Always logout of any online banking session.
  • Never use a public PC, eg in a library/hotel/cafe, to access online accounts.

If you have had an account compromised or a Trojan program was found on your computer, follow our “Identity theft – what to do when you are a victim” tutorial and guide.

How to use AVG antivirus – tutorial

avg-logoHow to use AVG Free version

OK.  First off this program is my pick of the free antivirus and antispyware crop at the moment.  Typically 80% to 90% of all repairs that we carry out here involve PCs infected with spyware or viruses.

Despite being a free product, AVG is very capable and in our tests outclasses much of the competition – even paid for products with subscriptions of up to £60 per year.

You will see an AVG icon in the system tray (the bottom right corner of your screen).

A9 TOP TIP: Hover your mouse over your tray icons to see their description.

The AVG icon in the tray will be in one of two states:

All running well = A four coloured square
Needs attention = A four coloured square with an exclamation mark on top

RIGHT click the icon to pop up a menu then  LEFT click “Open AVG User Interface” at the top of this menu.  This opens the main control centre.  Once there you will see large icons showing a little tick next to them if they are healthy.  If not you need to resolve the problem.  In general the only thing AVG complains about is missing a scheduled update.  Remember – your antivirus needs updating to be effective against threats (viruses and spyware) that have been released today.

A9 TOP TIP: If your PC is not turned on and an update or scan is scheduled to occur then neither will happen.  This is not a big problem as it will take place at the next available scheduled time.

Close the AVG box.  Now let’s force AVG to do an update.

AVG will update automatically at scheduled times which are set in the program but you can do a manual update if required. To update manually, RIGHT click on the tray icon and select ‘Update now’.  If it needs an update it will pop up a box entitled ‘AVG Update’ showing you the updates available.  Simply click on ‘Update’ to download and install these.

OK, so now we know how to keep AVG updated I’ll talk you through a ‘real-world’ example of how to use this valuable tool to keep your PC clean.

Downloading and installing or running files.

This is the way that most PCs become infected.  Please take the time to read this, it will prevent disaster in the long run.

First we need a file to download.  Since music file downloading is one of the biggest culprits we’ll start by downloading an MP3 file.  This is the most common music file format in use today.

Right click here, select ‘Save target as’ to download a small MP3 file from my web server

Firefox users will need to select ‘Save link as’. Save it to your desktop when prompted.
This is a test mp3 which I have reduced in size to form part of this example.  It’s not a song but if you want to download music I’d recommend Amazon’s mp3 service (but please finish the example first!)

OK.  Now let’s presume this file has a virus in it.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t….

If it contained a virus, it would still be safe even downloaded onto our computer UNTIL WE DOUBLE CLICK ON IT TO LAUNCH IT.  This is what many people do with the files they download (and this helps to keep me in business…..)

So what can we do to check this file has no viruses or spyware?  Simply go to your desktop where you downloaded the file and RIGHT click on it.  Up pops a menu offering choices like ‘Open’, ‘Explore’ etc.  We want the ‘Scan with AVG Free’ option.  Left clicking this invokes a scan of that particular file, no others.  Very quickly the scan will finish where we should see AVG report ‘0 infections found’.  Obviously, had this file been a virus, then AVG would have prompted you to ‘Heal’, ‘Move to Vault’ or ‘Ignore’.

If in doubt, select ‘Move to the virus vault’.  This is a special area of your computer where the file can do no harm.  If it was an important file that was infected, say your company accounts for example, then you can pass the file onto virus experts (like us) to have it professionally cleaned.

You can scan complete folders in the same way as you scanned this file.

Here’s a common scenario.  You have a PC and a family member or friend (we’ll call him Fred) comes round to show you a ‘great new program’ he has found or some holiday photos on a CD.  It could likewise be a USB pen drive or USB memory stick.  By all means let him show you, but insist that you scan his CD first.  Viruses like to propagate by passing onto removable media like CDs.  If his computer is infected then yours probably will be in a few minutes!

To scan Fred’s CD, insert it then open ‘My Computer’.  Right click on the icon for the CD and select ‘Scan with AVG Free’.  Allow some time if there are several files on the CD.  Again, you want to see ‘0 infections found’.  Now you can open the CD’s contents and let Fred show his 800 holiday photos.  Hopefully one day AVG will add a boredom scanner……

Limewire and other file sharing tools

If you have teenage children then you probably have Limewire installed on your PC.  If not you may have an equivalent file sharing program such as Azureus, Emule, Utorrent, BitComet, Kazaa, Edonkey, BearShare, Shareazaa….the list goes on.  Some of these programs actually contain adware or spyware and are dropping their payload on your machine when you first install them.  All of them will link you to repositories of files on other people’s PCs across the globe.  And do you really think that everybody has virus free machines?  No of course not.  But by downloading the files that you find on these programs and not scanning them afterwards you are effectively saying “I want to download files from anywhere in the world with no knowledge of whether they are infected or not”.

So using the Limewire example, let’s look at where these files go.  If you have Limewire installed, open it up.  From the menu at the top select ‘Tools’, ‘Options’ then on the left panel select ‘Saving’ then ‘Basic’.  Here you can select where you store your downloaded files.  My location for example is:

C:\Documents and Settings\A9ComputerServices\My Documents\LimeWire\Saved

Yours will be similar substituting your username of course.  So now we simply need to navigate to this folder and give it a quick scan to be happy that our Limewire downloads are virus and spyware free.  Open up ‘My Documents’, then double click the ‘Limewire’ folder.  RIGHT click on the folder called ‘Saved’ and select ‘Scan with AVG Free’.  When the scan returns no infections then you can be happy that you have done all you can to protect your PC. You can now launch the file you have downloaded.

This information should empower you to keep your PC clean.  Please understand that as free software AVG requires a certain amount of basic knowledge to help keep your PC free from infection.  It does monitor the opening and downloading of files in the background but by observing a few basic precautions as listed above it will help to serve you better.

Updates failing

Occasionally there may be times where the update fails.  This means that the program could not connect with the server. Please remember, AVG 8 is a free product and there are millions of users all asking for updates at similar times.  It is bound to fail occasionally but is generally reliable.

To set a scheduled update in AVG Free

* Open AVG main control centre by double clicking the icon in the tray (bottom right of your screen)
* Click on ‘Tools’, ‘Advanced settings’, then click the small + sign next to ‘schedules’.
* Click on ‘Virus database update schedule’ and set a time here that is a time your computer is most likely to be on
* Click on OK to save your settings

The update will then happen at that time, or within 2 hours following that time, each day.  For the UK, if the update happens in the morning there is more chance that the American users will be asleep so this is preferable as the US market is huge.  Aim for about 10:00AM if possible.  If your PC is switched off around that time then don’t do this or you will never update automatically.

Ticking the box to ‘apply the update when your computer restarts’ will resolve this although it means occasionally your startup will be a bit slower.  A worthwhile trade-off.

Upgrading to the full version of AVG Internet Security

If you wish to upgrade to the all-singing and dancing version of AVG then it’s a matter of downloading the full version from this link:
AVG Internet Security download
This paid version provides you with a stronger firewall and better scheduled scanning options. It also has identity protection built in.

Scams

Never trust an email asking you to download a newer version.  All major updates will be reported on this site (a9cs.com) or www.avg.com.

AVG360 does not currently exist as a genuine product and is a known scam in both emails and on web pages.  Don’t go anywhere near these email links!

Should you wish to link to my tutorial in your webpages, please do so.  All text is Copyright A9 Computer Services 2007 to 2013 and should not be duplicated without our consent.  We accept no responsibility for damage that you may do to your PC as a result of our tutorials.

What is spyware? A tutorial

What is spywareSpyware is, as the name suggests, a piece of software which resides on your PC and literally ‘spies’ on you. It can record your surfing habits (which websites you visit and how often) and can target adverts to pop-up when you don’t request them. It usually makes unwanted changes to your computer while collecting information about your computer activities. It is difficult to detect, and particularly difficult (often impossible) for the average user to remove.This information may then be sent to a third party for malicious purposes, without your knowledge or consent. Spyware arrives in many ways:

* Bundled with freeware or shareware programs
* Through a ‘hacker’ who gains access to your PC
* Through e-mail or instant messenger programs
* By downloading a spyware infected file in a file-sharing program
* As an ActiveX installation by simply visiting a malicious website

Anyone that uses a computer is susceptible to a spyware infection. Your online actions, whether you’re surfing the Internet or checking e-mail, can attract spyware files, applications or programs. These programs find their way onto your system and install themselves in several possible places on your PC, including your registry, start up menu, files and folders. Many spyware programs ensure their survival by placing traces of the program throughout your system to make full removal more difficult (and sometimes nearly impossible). Once installed, spyware operates silently in the background. It is in the interest of a Spyware program to survive and resist attempts to remove it. Many will kill the complete Windows installation if they are removed.

Spyware comes in many forms from benign ‘cookies’ to more nefarious spyware programs like trojans, keyloggers and system monitors. These are capable of capturing keystrokes, online screenshots, and personally identifiable information like your bank account numbers, Website logins, passwords, or credit card numbers.

Browser hijackers are generally grouped with spyware and do just that, they take your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox etc) and redirect them to other websites which you have not asked to see. Casino, dating and pornography sites are notorious for this as they pay the spyware authors for each visitor they can send to their site.

Diallers are often installed with spyware and can change your Internet access number to a premium rate or international number which will generate a revenue for the spyware creator. We have seen customers with quarterly telephone bills in excess of £200 from this type of activity. This is seen less now with broadband connections and routers, but often people have left their old dial-up modem connected to the phone socket.

Ultimately, your identity and private information can be compromised by these malicious programs. On a corporate level, spyware can compromise network and data security, corporate assets and trade secrets. Aside from potential identity theft, many spyware programs ‘steal’ from you by cluttering your computer’s memory resources and eating bandwidth as they communicate with the spyware’s home base using your Internet connection. This could lead to your computer suffering system crashes and/or slower performance.

We offer a full spyware/virus/trojan removal service but we don’t stop there. You need to be protected from reoccurrence and unlike many other companies we put methods in place to prevent re-infection. Contact us now for a free quote and we can explain our services in better detail.

PC Health Check

PC Health Check Sutton ColdfieldThe PC health check costs £95 for previous customers and £105 for new customers. It remains the most comprehensive check of your computer that is currently available in the area.

We have been carrying out this type of maintenance for many years and existing customers often ask for a yearly ‘spring clean’ of their PC.

It can be carried out as a standalone service or in conjunction with a repair or upgrade.

The health check covers all of the following:

  • Complete scan of the hard drive(s) for malicious code
  • Antivirus test and update
  • Antispyware test and update
  • Trojan and worm scan (including the Conficker worm)
  • Rootkit scan
  • Firewall check, update and penetration test
  • Temporary file removal (accumulated ‘clutter’ of Internet pages, history, logfiles etc)
  • Hard drive error scan
  • Registry clean
  • Router settings backup
  • Examination of startup entries for malware
  • Windows security patches and updates
  • Advice on backup regimes

All necessary updates will be carried out provided there is broadband Internet access at your home. Should you be interested in this service please contact us via telephone or email. Details can be found on the ‘Contact us‘ page of this site.