Still think your anti-virus helps you

Happy New Year to everyone! Unfortunately, my first post of the new year is not a positive one.

For example, malware programs now infect computers and then routinely use their own antivirus capabilities to not only disable antivirus software but also remove competing malware programs.


Norton 360 Support ChatOk – I’ve been preaching for a long time that your anti virus program is one of the last lines of defense on your computer. Anti-virus programs are like an alarm system on your house – and an alarm system tells you when an intruder is already there. This is typically too late.

Once Pandora’s Box has been opened, it is nearly impossible to get her back in the box. Once your computer has been compromised, that is it. You simply cannot trust it any longer. As I’ve recommended over and over, the only way to fully trust a computer is to make sure you have a good backup of your data, wipe the machine, and reinstall from scratch.

Research compiled by PandaLabs suggests that a staggering number of infected computers, as many as 10 million, are being used to distribute spam and malware over the Internet each day.


This means that there is a 10-million-man army of machines spewing out spam and helping distribute out more malware and disruptive programs. These programs are designed to take control of a computer (usually hidden from the user) as part of a bot-net. They typically don’t want to crash your computer or erase your data. They just want to use your computer and start throwing pop-ups at you.

That’s right – the bad guys don’t have to have a warehouse of computers to spit out fake-viagra ads. They just use your computer – and your neighbors.

Microsoft researchers were amazed to find out that a lot of malware will make sure that the security update features of Windows are turned on – in an effort to stop other competing malware from getting installed! This is a real war being raged.

Microsoft has been releasing it’s Malicious Software Removal Tool for sometime in an effort to combat some of this. However, the truth is that the MSRT is about as effective as anti-virus software – it’s more of a marketing gimmick than anything.

Once a machine has been compromised – you can’t trust it unless it gets wiped clean.

What do you do?

It’s really pretty simple. You have to think of security on your computer in layers. The first and most important layer is common sense – be careful of what you do.

Most people think of their computers like a television set – but it’s not. Your computer is connected to hundreds of millions of other devices as soon as it is turned on if you have a cable or DSL connection. Remember that not everyone in the world has good intentions.

Here is my quick review of how to stay safe:

  • Be wary of all emails – use common sense.
  • Make sure you have a NAT router.
  • Run Firefox – never use Internet Explorer again.
  • Use OpenDNS to help protect your network.
  • Be wary of phishing schemes.
  • Use strong passwords.

Read and review the following posts. The vast majority of my clients DO NOT get re-infected or even infected in the first place. That’s because I preach these things to everyone.

Why did I get infected in the first place?

Layered Security Basics

Simple Rules for Your Computing

PayPal Phising Email

The Importance of Backups

References (if you don’t believe me):

Thieves Winning Online War, Maybe Even in Your Computer

Internet Security Is Losing The Online War

Microsoft kicks fake security software off 400,000 PCs

McAfee Avert Labs Blog