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Old 12th November 2004   #1
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How to remove and avoid all ADWARE/SPYWARE/SPAM


I have found Spyware/adware is the most called about tech problem i deal with these days as a technician, and it has replaced viruses as the no.1 PC annoyance and problem cause. And many do more harm to your PC and its performance than viruses do as well.

Most spyware/adware will be removed using such programs as Spybot and Adaware.

Some people will need specialist adware removers for certain adware varieties
that are harder to kill. Things like varieties of coolwebsearch adware, and other homepage hijackers require programs like CWShredder to remove them properly. CW Shredder is specifically for the many strains of coolwebsearch there is. I mention cws as it can be a hard one to remove and it regenerates itself quickly. It is also widespread.

If you had adware/spyware that cost you money because it dials premium services, i would make sure it was gone and format. In some cases i have come across, where adware is rampant and damage is done to your OS, a format and re-install is the best thing to do for it. It may take less time to do than weed out some adwares that wont go anyway.

Backup your data, and re-install Windows including a format, if you cant get it all out.

Clients of mine who had adware and SPAM problems and have followed my advice below, have not had a repeat episode of such problems.


1) Resist installing programs that offer free this or that. Things like search bars, weather monitors, multimedia sharing software like Kazaa, Limewire and WinMX or any spyware remover that gave you the adware to start with and offered you a cure for it .

Peer-to-peer network file sharing software like Kazaa are the worlds biggest adware/spyware magnets, and also increase your risk of virus attacks. I understand why people wish to use such software, but advise against it if you dont have a tech in your family.

I have a couple of clients whose teenage kids insist on using Kazaa and alike software, and every few months no fail, they pay me to re-install thier PCs. Over time the software draws in so much adware it chokes your PC, and in many cases internet access becomes impossible.

2) Have a good firewall program that also blocks adware and viruses. Like Nortons Internet Security or McAfee. Kapersky is another good one. Also keep it up to date, doing manual updates as well as automatic ones, and run regular manual scans of your disks.

3) Dont disable your firewall once in place, to play online games or for some other reason. Find out which firewall ports you need to open, that your game or whatever needs to use, and only open what you need to.

4) When having to give your email address online to get a download of any kind or to sign up for something, dont give your real email address. You should set up a Yahoo or Hotmail account which you can clean out now and then and wont have to face every day all the SPAM you may get if you end up on a mailing list. You can go and empty it out occassinally or retrieve an email sent to it if needed. Note you must use these types of accounts a certain amount or they expire.

People out there make a living selling mailing lists and if you get on one, you will end up on many over time without doing a thing more to encourage it. People with spamitis often have to abandon thier email address to get rid of it.

5) If you visit a website that requires you to install an activex or other control into internet explorer so you can view it properly, or download something, you should be very careful which you agree to install. Unless you must use the site, or you know the plugin is common and safe (like Macromedia flash player or Realplayer) say NO when asked to install browser plugins. Most of them will attract adware and slow down your PC and internet. And they breed!

6) Finally keep you Windows updates, up to date, especially security upates that fix holes in Windows security. If updates give you trouble, best to try and fix it or work around it with the update in place where possible, than to not have the update at all.

My PC is always online, 24/7, and i dont get adware or viruses. But many of my clients get heaps of it until they do the above things. All i do is what is above, and i also play online games with my firewall on. Particularly C&C Generals which requires 4 or 5 ports to be opened in your firewall to play. But 4 or 5 is nothing, there are a bit over 65500 possible ports.

Finally remember this : NOTHING IS FREE! There always is a cost somewhere, and that cost may be paying your technician to fix your PC or your own time fixing it.

Cyas

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Old 12th November 2004   #2
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Thank you, Dez Bradley, for writing out the basics of Spyware/Adware/Malware prevention. Like you, those are most of my calls, too. I get the job when the PC is so choked it won't run anymore.

Filesharing:
WinMX is clean, though. I think Limewire is okay, too, but I'm not 100% positive- maybe someone else can confirm?

I agree with reformatting as the fastest foolproof solution to congested and cluttered PCs. Be careful what data and programs you try to "save", however, because you don't want to carry over the garbage to the new install.

I have also cleaned up PCs only to get a call a week later that the teenager has reinstalled the very same yuck all over again. Teach your kids the basics, or use XP to limit what they can or cannot do.

Nice write up, DB, thanks for taking the time to do it.

Johanna

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Old 12th November 2004   #3
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I agree with reformatting as the fastest foolproof solution to congested and cluttered PCs. Be careful what data and programs you try to "save", however, because you don't want to carry over the garbage to the new install.
That is so right that is almost funny.

Another MISTAKE that users ( yes, me too ) have made is that they get a machine cleand up and then use and OLD BACKUP to to maybe restore somethings.

When you get the machine clean up.
1-In 98 delete all RB00X.cab files and make a new one.
2-in XP. Do the same with Restore points.
3-In any OS. BE CAREFULL of restoring old backups.

I have in the past experimented with this. In 98SE. I cleaned out some no longer needed Software. Then restored a RB00X.cab file from 5 days before. I was WORSE off than before I did the cleaning. Because the restore only but back PART of what I took out. All kinds of CAN'T FIND errors because the actuall program files were gone.

Even if I had used the one made for that day ( before cleaning ) it still would have meant at least cleaning the reg again.

My Bottom line.
Backups are nice to have. But at times if not used carefully they can also be trouble.

BillyBob

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Old 12th November 2004   #4
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maybe a coincindence then, but most of the PCs i have seen with WinMX and Kazaa type programs are riddled with adware.

The main problem i have noticed with WinMX and the like is the subprogram that they run called P2P Networking.exe. This little gem tends to hog unreal amounts of PC resources (CPU, Memory) and also hogs huge chunks of your internet bandwidth.

It may very well be that these programs themself do not attract adware, but the people you connect to using it, and files you download with it, might be responsible. After fixing so many PCs with adware overdoses who also had this type of software, i am willing to guess it must be connected somehow.

Glad you liked my write up, thank you for your comment.

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Old 12th November 2004   #5
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Another area to be carefull of is E-MAIL

I have made that error too. I thought that something looked good. So I clicked on the Link.

It took me the better part of a day to clean up the mess.

That is the day that the RB00x.cab file made that morning came in handy.

And also Startup Cop helped me get the TRASH out of the bootup.

Even now every once in a while I find something in the Startup Group that I have NO IDEA where it came from. Especially on the machine that the Nieces and Nephews use.

That is why I try to keep on eye on the Systray for anything new.

BillyBob

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Old 12th November 2004   #6
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Good write-up!

I've been through the grief of teenagers installing Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster over the past couple of years. They all contain spyware. However, I've recently installed Winmx and so far..... it appears to be clean. Just like they claim it to be. And seems to work too... bonus!!

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Old 12th November 2004   #7
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Very good post.

WinMX is clean though, as are various other file sharing programs.
All the 'FastTrack' Clients are not. Do not use KaZaA, iMesh or Grokster.
For those that wish to partake in file sharing. Soulseek is a good clean client for mp3's and eMule is a good clean client for films, tv episodes etc.

Spotta

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Old 12th November 2004   #8
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I've been through the grief of teenagers installing Kazaa

That kept one ( UNHAPPY ) Niece off of our machines for two weeks. And it did her no good to go crying to her Aunt.

She has tried none of that nonsese since. Now if something comes up that looks doubtful or she does not understand I hear " Uncle Bob. What is this ". The machine has stayed A LOT cleaner.

Her Mother did come complaing to me but I just informed her that if she stuck her nose in to deeply that her kids would NOT BE using OUR machine at all.

BillyBob

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