Are You Really Safe from Malware?

Don Trauger – Kennett

A leading anti-virus company recently reported that 240 million malware programs were discovered in 2009. That number boggles the mind. More importantly, only 2.9 million signatures were written against these programs, just over 1%. In the first half of 2010, 124 million distinct new malware programs have been discovered and only 1.8 million signatures written against them. That’s an increase of almost 1.5%. The trend is better but only slightly. Signatures, or definitions as they are often called, are the daily updates downloaded from your anti-virus program company to your computer to help keep you safe. Coupled with the fact it often takes a day or two to write these signatures plus the overall poor record of protection, do you really have a chance not to get infected? Absolutely.

I’ve recommended Avast & Malwarebytes as free 2 programs to help guard you from an infection. Are they perfect? No. But kept up to date you can’t find better protection at any price. Avast provides real-time blocking and removal of infections and Malwarebytes provides additional scanning and removal capabilities. With these tools in place you have a very good chance of removing an infection should something get past Avast.

The best way to remove an infection is to start or restart the computer so it will run in Safe Mode. Safe Mode is Window’s diagnostic mode and is the best environment to remove an infection. To start in Safe Mode, press the F8 key for about 1 second when you see the computer manufacturer’s logo then release it for 1 second. Repeat this press/release procedure until you see a screen menu where it says “Safe Mode”. Don’t hold the F8 key down steadily or the computer may not start. This may take a little practice. Once you see a screen menu select Safe mode by using the arrows on your keyboard and then press the Enter key. The computer should now boot into Safe Mode. OK the pop-up window then after you get to the Desktop screen continue to your 2 security programs. Open Avast, click “Scan Computer”, choose the “Full System Scan” and click Start. Allow it to send any infected items to the Virus Chest. After that, open Malwarebytes, choose “Perform Full Scan” then click the Scan button. After the scan allow Malwarebytes to remove infected items and have it place them in quarantine. Are you done? Not quite. Reboot the computer into regular mode and repeat the scanning again. There’s no need to boot into Safe Mode again unless more infected items are found. On a routine non-infected basis I recommend scanning your computer at least twice a month. You don’t need to do the full scans, a quick scan will do nicely as long as you are not infected.

Normally, I don’t recommend pay-for versions of security products. However, I will recommend upgrading Malwarebytes to the paid version particularly if you have been infected previously. The paid-for version can provide additional real-time blocking to known infected web sites. The cost is $24.95 lifetime. Also, I feel Google’s Chrome browser provides slightly better security protection when surfing the Web. It’s free and you can download it by going to, click on “more” at the top of the page, then click on “even more”, and choose Google Chrome from the list.

Discussion of this topic and your computer questions can be addressed when you attend the PC Computer Club meeting. It’s held the second Tuesday of every month upstairs in the Community Center in the Ardmore Room at 7:00 PM.