Like there’s not enough out there to worry about…..

There’s a type of spyware that’s been going around for a few years known as “rogue spyware”.  Basically they look legitimate with their Windows-style popups warning you of some impending doom if you don’t immediately scan your computer.  If you choose to scan, then the spyware takes over your system, finds some bogus infections, and offers to fix the problem (for a fee, of course).

To the untrained eye, trying to discern whether the infection warning is real or fake is like trying to find the difference between whether it’s live or Memorex!  If you get an infection warning on your PC, and the hairs on your neck stand up, and you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, and an unexplainable anxiety washes over you, and you’re not in a campy horror movie, then call me.  I’ll take a quick look at the message and find out if it’s legitimate or bogus.

The latest rogue spyware I’ve encountered is Thinkpoint.  Normally, this type of spyware feeds you a steady diet of annoying popups, but doesn’t actually stop you from using your computer.  Not Thinkpoint.  Oh no!  Thinkpoint starts up when Windows boots, hijacks your computer, and keeps you from getting to your desktop.

If you see this screen when you turn your computer on, then it's time to whip out the Lorazepam.

If you see this screen then, sadly, it’s too late.  The fix is pretty simple, but it involves deleting and changing some critical registry entries that, if done incorrectly, could turn your PC into an attractive and rather ineffective paperweight.

Thinkpoint is an extreme case, but that’s not to say that you can’t catch some other malware infection.  There are several common sense things you can do to minimize your chances of getting infected.

1. Don’t install unauthorized software on your PC.  I know that new Fabio screen saver is irresistible, but do you really know where it’s coming from?  Think about it…if a stranger stopped you on the street and offered you a brownie, would you eat it?  Same principle!

2. If you do get infected, don’t ignore it.  Like running from the cops, it will usually turn out badly.  Talk to your IT people or call me if your PC gets infected.

3. Keep your anti-virus running and updated.  This one’s pretty straight-forward, so there’s nothing cute to say about it, but if I think of something later I’ll silently pretend you thought it was funny.

4. Keep Windows updated.  This one’s pretty straight-forward, too. so…there’s nothing cute yada yada yada…..

Catching some sort of funky malware is a part of using Windows, it seems.  So if you find yourself in this position, give me a call at 601-925-6279 and I’ll solve the problem.

(I’ll keep the Fabio thing between us)

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