Virus warning & safe surfing - Geek Guru

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Virus warning & safe surfing

Over the last few days Geek-Guru have been contacted by a number of businesses who have been affected by a particularly nasty virus that was spread via infected images on legitimate adverts.

It would seem that most of the major anti-virus brands were not able to catch this virus and we thought it prudent to advise people of some general advice for protecting computers and what users should do if they find themselves with an infected PC.

The virus we have seen recently managed to slip past at least three of the major anti-virus vendors and was hidden in a perfectly legitimate advert on a mainstream website. Against these odds you may ask yourself what you can do to protect yourself and indeed sometimes infections do come down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, there are some good rules you can follow to help minimise problems online:

  1. Keep Windows updated – Apply all security patches as they are released. These updates patch security vulnerabilities. They may not help against zero-day viruses (i.e. those that have just hit the internet) but it will protect you from older nasties that are still doing the rounds
  2. Update web applications – The key ones to keep updated are Adobe applications, such as Flash and Acrobat Reader, and the Java runtime. These applications are critical as they interface directly with the internet and as such are used by hackers as gateways to your PC. Keeping them up to date ensures you always have the latest security patches installed.
  3. Use a reputable anti-virus program – Always run an av program and keep it licensed and updated. These programs are your first line of defense against any nasties and can help remove them if you do get an infection. Never be without anti-virus software – full stop!
  4. Be careful when surfing – If you see something odd, suspicious or otherwise out of the ordinary then that should ring alarm bells. If this happens the safest thing to do is to immediately shut down the PC by going straight to the start menu and clicking ‘Shut Down’. Attempting to close the web browser or remove any virus warning windows COULD make matters worse so don’t be tempted to close applications before shutting down the PC. If in any doubt don’t do anything and call us for advice!
  5. Consider using a non-admin account for web surfing – Whilst local administrator access is undoubtedly useful from an end user perspective it does pave the way for viruses to install themselves should you accidentally come across one on your travels. By restricting user access to non-admin accounts you can hugely reduce the risk of virus infections.
  6. Use a personal firewall – A well administered firewall can significantly reduce the risk of viruses getting on to your PC and then causing damage once they’re there. The key point here is ‘well administered’. Simply accepting every network access request that pops up will do nothing to enhance security so a good initial setup and user training is often needed to get the most from these products.

If you do get a virus the safest thing is to turn the PC off and call an expert. Viruses can steal information such as passwords and bank details so don’t give them the chance by continuing to use the computer in the hope that the virus will go away. Once infected many viruses can’t be removed in the standard Windows environment as they have mechanisms to protect themselves. Often it is required to boot the PC in safe mode and remove the virus that way but this should not be attempted unless you know what you are doing.

As always, if in doubt, call Geek-Guru as we will almost certainly have seen the virus before and will know the best way to remove it.

Posted on by Tim
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