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Why You Need To Run Your Antivirus Programs More Often

Posted by on Jul 21, 2012

Taking a break from the blogging posts because I have something serious to bring up. It’s on the topic of computer maintenance. It’s on the topic of running your antivirus programs. And it’s on the topic of trying to be careful with updates.


by Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

Some weeks ago I updated my main computer with what was at the time the most recent Adobe Flash update. Immediately my computer freaked out, and it took me 2 hours to finally figure out how to get rid of it. Actually it should have come to me much sooner, but I was frustrated. What I did was run a system restore, and I went back 2 months prior just to make sure I was going to cover everything. I hadn’t loaded any other programs that I could think of so I wasn’t worried about losing anything.

I ended up having to run it twice. The first time it didn’t take. The second time it said it didn’t take, but when I booted the computer up it said it had restored itself to a previous time, and I’ve had no problems ever since.

So, when a week later the laptop started acting goofy, I said to myself “well, I guess that Adobe flash update is just going to mess with everything.” This time I went to system restore immediately, it said it worked, and I believed everything was fine.

Only everything wasn’t fine. The update was gone but the laptop wasn’t working. Actually it would work for about a minute, then I couldn’t type anything, couldn’t open most programs, and many windows I tried to look at disappeared as soon as I moved my mouse. What was troubling is that when I booted up in safe mode to look around I encountered the same issue; what the hey?

I knew this had nothing to do with Adobe. I knew this was either virus or malware related. But I tried to figure out how it got on my system. I have antivirus software, AVG, and a firewall. I figured I had pretty good protection; what was the deal?

I downloaded Stinger and ran it on the laptop, remembering to load it in that free minute I had. It ran and found nothing; that meant it wasn’t a virus, but malware. I went to look at my AVG program after another reboot. It said that my computer wasn’t fully protected, and to click some box to fix it. I clicked the box and it did its thing then said “fixed”.

I then looked at it and saw that it hadn’t run a scan of the laptop in 5 months; oy! I thought about that because my main computer runs a scan once a week, and I realized the problem is that I always have my main computer on but my laptop I might run an hour a day, if that.

Also, I tend to take more chances on the laptop than I do on my main computer, doing more surfing because my main computer is used for most of my writing and emailing. Bad idea, especially when I didn’t have all my protections on.

This time, I didn’t have to reboot to run the virus scan. I put it on the strongest setting, told it to scan the entire computer, and it did its thing. Turns out I had 78 pieces of malware and tracking cookies on the laptop; ouch! AVG cleaned them all out. Then, just to make sure it was all good, I went online and ran an online virus scan of the laptop, just to see if it found anything; all good.

The next night I ran Spybot, since I was up until 3:15 in the morning trying to fix the laptop (I spent 4 hours on it; ouch), and it found nothing new. That means AVG did its thing, and it taught me a very important lesson, one I knew already for my main computer but one I hadn’t thought about for the laptop. Make sure to scan your system at least once a week if you use your laptop or computer even once. It’s just a smart thing to do.
 

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23 Comments »

Yes, this exact same thing happened to a buddy of mine last week, and it was touched off by doing a Flash update.

Luckily he’s part of a corporation where the I.T. guys were able to fix it, but they still had the thing for the whole day scanning and restoring and all that.

Probably best to set all the AV and Malware programs to autoscan and just let them do their thing. It’s an annoyance but better than the alternative of losing productivity.

We used to have a Windows server back at the old gig. None of us used proper protection methods for it so it didn’t take long before windows were popping up all over the place, and then at the same time someone got into it and was trying to set up some kind of World of Warcraft server – I could actually see them logging in with VNC and moving the mouse around lol!

After than we brought in someone who knew what they hell they were doing to lock it down, but it only takes that first harsh lesson before you get with the program.
John Garrett recently posted…Destination X – Ducati, FAP and The Ride of a LifetimeMy Profile

July 21st, 2012 | 2:12 PM

Hi John,

I actually have those things set to run, but I forget that on the laptop nothing can run if I’ve either turned off the laptop or put it into hibernation by closing it up. I just need to have those times when I let it run when I first turn it on since these days you can let it scan your computer in the background without having to worry about it slowing things down like in the past.

July 21st, 2012 | 11:22 PM
Kelvin Ringold:

Greetings Mr. Mitchell!

Good post. I use AVAST virus checker and it’s proven very reliable, and it is set to run a scan at least once a week, plus it scans all downloads of any kind. I also like that you can do a boot-time scan with it, that will scan your system before Windows has a chance to kick in. Viruses often use Windows to hide from virus checkers, so the boot scan starts it off in DOS mode (yeah, forgot about DOS didn’t you?)

I also suggest the program MalwareBytes as an adjunct. It supplants Spybot for me. And the program CCleaner is excellent at removing junk files left behind by program installs, temporary files, browser caches and the like as well as occasionally cleaning up the registry. I use ONLY the default settings on CCleaner. I typically don’t use a single suite from any one company. I know the logic is that it should work very well together and not miss anything, but that has not been my experience.

Thanks for the post.

July 21st, 2012 | 10:51 PM

Wow, great stuff Mr. Ringold. I have CCleaner on my computer but don’t run it often enough, though I do clean my temp file out every couple of weeks. I’ll try MalwareBytes. And yes, I haven’t thought much about DOS with these computers, and haven’t done a boot-time scan in a long while; probably need to do that at least once to see if there’s anything going on. At least I should set it up to do it on the laptop.

July 21st, 2012 | 11:27 PM
DeanOrton:

Hey Mitch,
Thank you for sharing your experiences about this malware/virus thing. I agree – your computer should be scanned once a week or even twice. There are some free antivirus that doesn’t do its thing. The malware goes through your computer and the antivirus doesn’t know it. Well, 1 scan each week is a must. Better to be safe than to lose everything you’ve got on your hard drive.

-Dean
DeanOrton recently posted…Find the Best Windows and Window Tinting ServiceMy Profile

July 21st, 2012 | 11:02 PM

You’re right Dean. I need to make sure I’m taking care of things automatically instead of waiting around, so I have made some alterations and set up schedules for things to run. It’s the smart way to do things.

July 21st, 2012 | 11:28 PM

It is really sad to know that you had to endure all that because of a computer. Something that is supposed to make your life easier! I get completely freaked out by even the slightest weird act my computer does, because I can never quite figure out what it is really up to. I had a similar problem once and I ended up losing all my precious data gathered over such a great span of time. It was heart breaking. When it comes to the computer and even the laptop, it is very crucial to keep a timely check on its functioning. I hope you or no unsuspecting soul for that matter, has to endure this trauma again.

July 23rd, 2012 | 1:12 AM

Wayne, luckily I don’t let stuff like this bother me all that much because I know that I will eventually fix it. Still, the irritations are enough so that one of these days I hope someone figures out how to find all of these guys that create viruses and malware so that we can collectively go kick their behinds. lol

July 23rd, 2012 | 8:42 PM

It is pretty important to have active and passive protection. Combination between anti-virus and firewall, plus few open source malware/spyware application is a necessity, updating those need to be done on daily basis. Even if those doesn’t stop the virus, quite possible is package to be damaged and not destroy operating system completely. I haven’t had close encounters with any viruses for nearly 2 years, I guess that combination of firewall and anti-virus is doing good job for me.
Carl recently posted…Simple Article Writing Tips that WorkMy Profile

July 23rd, 2012 | 5:57 AM

Carl, overall it just proves that we all have to be wary and keep up to date on our antivirus and malware protection programs because you never know when something new could come in and mess things up.

July 23rd, 2012 | 8:45 PM

Absolutely and for sure there is always something new that come up. I think a good strategy is to keep Spybot up to date and immunize, which will lock bad websites in localhost file.
Carl recently posted…How Techniques for Local SEO DC Puts Your Business In Front of SearchersMy Profile

July 23rd, 2012 | 11:02 PM

Alas, my Mac does not need such things (so far). I am sure I will in the future but so far..no need. Now, at work, I need all these and MORE!!!!
Scott Thomas recently posted…View 238: The NationalsMy Profile

July 23rd, 2012 | 12:32 PM

Yeah, yeah… lol You’ve been lucky so far because there are Mac viruses and they’re more insidious because Mac people think they don’t have anything to worry about and thus don’t even try protecting themselves. So there! 😛

July 23rd, 2012 | 8:50 PM
Kharim Tomlinson:

Great points man.

For me I hate it when I had to format my computer because of those annoying viruses. LOL now those days are over because I know how to keep those pesky virus away.

July 23rd, 2012 | 9:47 PM

Kharim, I only formatted my hard drive once ever, and that was when I took it to someone else to fix for me. That will never happen again for that reason.

July 24th, 2012 | 8:47 AM
Jewel:

I actually run my Antivirus program every time before I start working on my computer. I got traumatized when I was in a hurry to finish some projects then my computer suddenly messed up out of nowhere and only to find out that it was infected by viruses. It’s better to make sure and act soon than to be late and sorry.

July 24th, 2012 | 4:28 AM

That’s one way to take care of yourself Jewel. These days we can work on our computers while running antivirus, so it shouldn’t be slowing things down all that much.

July 24th, 2012 | 8:48 AM
Anton Koekemoer:

Hi Mitch,

Yes – Especially from a webmaster point of view. If your computer is vulnerable then all your websites and those of your clients are vulnerable as well. This can mean not only loosing data but losing the data to people and programs you least want it to be exposed to – like key-logging programs etc. The importance of having a good and up to date anti-virus software on your computer is only becoming more valuable and worth the investment from a business resource (time and financial) point of view.

July 24th, 2012 | 5:28 AM

True Anton. And of course it does little good having it on your computer if you don’t use it. 🙂

July 24th, 2012 | 8:49 AM

Mitch,
This is a great reminder of scanning your computer regularly. An hour of scanning is better than an hour of reformatting(or even more) your hard drive. Saves you from a lot of trouble.

July 26th, 2012 | 1:04 AM

You’re right Barry. And these days it doesn’t even take an hour for a thorough scan for most of us, which is a great boon to technology in my opinion.

July 26th, 2012 | 9:47 AM

If you have confidential date stored on your machine, you obviously have great responsibility. In this case, one should regularly take the time to ensure that your system is 100% clean and nothing can be stolen / modified.
Garrett Bischoff recently posted…Infrarotkabinen InformationMy Profile

July 26th, 2012 | 3:44 AM

Garrett, I think we all consider everything we have on our computers as confidential data; at least I do. Keeping our computers safe should be a priority, no matter what.

July 26th, 2012 | 9:48 AM