10 April 2009


Conficker started spreading last November, and there are many variants of the virus around that can spread in several different ways, including through infected USB drives. If you are worried that your PC might be infected, Microsoft have released a tool capable of removing several Conficker variants, plus several other malware infections. You can download it from here:

Even if you don't think you've got a problem I would recommend downloading and running this and then repeating the scan once every week or two as I've seen several instances of decent anti-virus software being fooled by this.

By the way, this is a typical time for people to send all their friends mail foretelling great disaster and so on. Just remember to check in at snopes.com (link to the virus and hoax page) before taking any notice.

03 April 2009

Scareware - don't get fooled again!

As The Who said.

You may remember AntiVirus2008 or whatever it was called. You get this message that says you need to get protection which takes you to a site where you were asked to pay money for some software that didn't actually do anything. The virus itself didn't do much in the first place but was very annoying and damn difficult to remove. I know from experience, which is why I want to tell you about the latest, much nastier development.

Called Antivirus2009, you'll get it by downloading some dodgy software or clicking a link in an e-mail to a site that's set to install it and, whereas its predecessor did nothing much, 2009 encrypts your files so that you can't read them. Now that is a pain. So then you will need their FileFix Professional program to unencrypt them. And that'll cost you $50.

There are, unfortunately, so many e-mails going around frightening people about all kinds of totally invented risks and calamities that warnings about this genuine one may also get ignored as yet another hoax. So be particularly careful until your virus protection programme has caught up with this threat and is capable of keeping you out of trouble or, at least, warning you that something's amiss in that innocent-looking music, video or Pictures of Lily download.

Are your friends getting odd e-mails from you?

You may not know about it if your friends are polite but your computer could be mailing everyone on your address list a whole load of stuff if you've got a virus. The one that everyone's talking about at the moment is called Conficker and, whilst supposed to do things on 1 April could well rumble away in the background and mail out or share information any other day in reality. I've already had a few examples from people I hadn't expected to be victims but who may not have got the important patches when they were released by Microsoft.

To make this as simple as possible, if you have any doubts (and especially if the computer's been running sluggishly on occasion) follow the instructions below to see whether you have the necessary Windows update file. (XP and Vista versions coutesy of Office Watch. There are links to the patch if you need it.

Windows XP

Go to Control Panel | Programs and Features | Add or Remove Programs then check the ‘Show Updates’ box and wait for the long list of updates to appear. Scroll down to the list of updates under ‘Windows XP – Software Updates’:

Windows XP - Conflicker patch details.jpg
Windows XP - Conflicker patch details.jpg

Scroll down the long list and look at the ‘KB’ references – the one you want to find is KB958644 .

The Windows XP patch if you don’t have it installed.

Windows Vista

Go to Control Panel | Programs and Features | Installed Updates. It may take a little time for the entire list to appear including all the Windows patches.

Windows Vista - Conflicker patch details.jpg
Windows Vista - Conflicker patch details.jpg

Scroll down the long list and look at the ‘KB’ references – the one you want to find it KB958644 .

The Windows Vista patch if you don’t have it installed.