Friday, January 25, 2008

Solutions for your Malware Troubles

Even with an up-to-date antivirus program, you can still run into malware baddies you can't detect or remove. As long as you can still get online, though, you can use an increasing number of free tools to find and, in most cases, remove those bastards. Here's where to find them - and how they work.

Antivirus Programs Are Smart - But Malware Writers Are 'Smarter'

Today's antivirus programs are smarter than ever before, but malware creators have an advantage over even the best ones: they can crank out new attacks and new variations on existing attacks faster than antivirus vendors can release updates. To make matters worse, antivirus programs vary widely in their ability to detect viruses, as this April 2007 test by the information portal reveals. Whether you use one of the highest-ranked products or not, don't be surprised if you scan your system for viruses and threats when it displays symptoms like slowdowns, popup ads, browser hijacking, and so forth - but your antivirus program doesn't find anything. So, what next?

Online Scanning to the Rescue

If you need a second opinion, use an online virus and threat scanner. This category, once limited to a few choices like Trend Micro's House Call and Symantec's Security Check, now contains many additional contenders:

Supported Platforms

Most online virus scanners support Windows/IE only, but House Call also supports Mozilla Firefox.

Find, or Find and Remove?

Most online virus scanners both find and remove viruses and threats. However, if you find a particular virus with an online virus scan that cannot remove it, you might be able to download a specialized removal tool.These are offered by

To select the right downloadable removal tool, you must know the name of the virus or threat. This can be tricky so consult the virus encyclopedias offered by antivirus vendors to determine alternative names (sometimes called 'aliases') for a particular threat so you can download the correct one. The Symantec, Trend Micro, F-Secure, and Microsoft encyclopedias are among those that generally feature good lists of aliases used by other vendors.

As you can see, there's lots of solutions to a virus or malware infection - even if your installed antivirus program can't find or remove it.

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