Off the Reservation
by Gary Woods
Has your software gone berserk? Does your home page keep changing? Do pop-up ads appear even when the browser is closed? If so, you're probably infected with some type of Malware, such as a spyware or a virus. The explosion of Malware has been huge in the most recent past. Viruses have been less of a problem for the past few years, but that doesn't mean the next big one isn't out there lurking. The biggest problem facing PC users is what's generally called Spyware. This kind of software is all about commerce and pushes you into viewing a web page they want you to see, or more maliciously to steal your information.
Fortunately the diagnosis for the problem is the same as the fix. First update your virus definitions, and then run a virus scan. If you don't have any anti-virus software you can go to http://housecall.trendmicro.com and run a free scan. This service scans for both viruses and spyware. Another free solution is Microsoft Windows Defender, formerly knows as Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware. I run 3 spyware scans a week using three different pieces of software and I also run a complete virus scan using Norton Anti-virus.
Once your PC is clean, make sure your Windows security patches and settings are up-to-date by going to Start then Control Panel and finally Windows Update. Also it would be good to download and run the free Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer which will tell you what to do.
If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or see my column on the Internet at http://www.santabarbaraproperties.com or call me at (805) 729-0910
Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. You can hear Gary on the Radio at 1290 AM Monday 9-10 AM and he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc