Root of the Problem
by Gary Woods
There are a lot of meanies out there that are just waiting to attack your computer. From Trojan Horses, to Spybots to good old fashioned Viruses there are a lot of things waiting to get at you. Some of the worst of the worst malware are called Rootkits.
If you've never heard this term before a rootkit is a program (or combination of several programs) designed to take fundamental control of a computer system, without authorization by the system's owners.
To combat this problem I found a piece of software that I run once a week from Panda Software (http://www.pandasecurity.com) called Panda Anti-Rootkit. It's a free utility and it goes through your registry items with a fine-tooth comb looking for evidence of rootkit activity. It then reports back in as much detail as you can handle and offers a course of action.
Anti-rootkit offers two different scans. The ordinary scan takes only a few minutes and can find a lot of really nasty programs that are lurking on your computer but it can't always remove everything it finds. To really make sure your system is clean you should run the "In Depth Scan" which requires two re-boots.
Panda Anti-Rootkit digs deeper that any of the commercial pieces of software that I've seen and gives you an amazingly detailed report so you can assess your options. I think this free piece of software is an important part of keeping my home systems running smoothly.
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. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc