Archive for Antivirus

How To Build A Bootable Anti-Virus USB Drive

Posted in Tips with tags on February 18, 2015 by itnerd

Let’s say that you are infected by a virus or some other piece of nasty software on your PC. Getting rid of it might be a challenge. The best way to get rid of most viruses is to boot from a USB stick and let it clear things out. This method works because the virus and the operating system won’t get in the way of you cleaning things out. Plus I’ve found that anything from malware to rootkits typically can be removed by using a bootable anti-virus USB stick. The question is, how do you build one? The answer is that it is very, very easy to do.

There are many companies that have applications that help you to create bootable anti-virus USB drives. My current favorite is the AVG Rescue CD which also creates a bootable USB stick. Simply download the version that is for USB sticks. Then follow this video tutorial to create a bootable USB stick. I’d recommend on that is 4GB in size. You don’t require a USB stick that’s bigger in size. Now if you ever get infected, you can follow this video tutorial to use it. The net result is that  this is easy to use and it typically eliminates most things it comes across that are evil in nature.

By having this bootable anti-virus USB drive in your toolkit, you can often save yourself a lot of cash if you should ever get infected by a virus that is difficult to remove. Thus eliminating the need to call someone like me. But If you have any questions about creating or using a anti-virus USB stick, drop me an e-mail.

Review: AVG Internet Security 2013

Posted in Products with tags , , on October 16, 2012 by itnerd

For a long time, I’ve recommended AVG Free Antivirus as one of the options for my clients to use in a home environment. But the downside to the AVG free is that it won’t protect you from stuff that comes across instant messaging, e-mail and the like. Nor does it have a firewall. Thus users who need those options need to pony up for something more. In this case AVG Internet Security 2013.

First, let me talk about the install. It’s painless. You download a small installer and once you run it will download the files it needs to install onto your computer. That’s a good strategy as you always get the latest version that way. One reboot and an update of the virus definitions and you’re in business. The user interface is very simple and clear. It has icons like “Computer”, “Web Browsing”, “Identity”, “Emails”, and “Firewall.” If you’ve seen Windows 8, this will look very familiar. Even if you haven’t seen Windows 8, it makes finding the settings that you need an easy process. Needless to say, it gives you complete protection from viruses regardless of the source.

To test the speed, I set it up on my wife’s Windows XP computer. Frequent readers will note that my wife is sensitive to the speed of the computer. After a few days of using this, she noted that at worst, it ran about the same speed. At best, it was a touch faster. Speaking of fast, it is quick to scan files. It took almost 20 minutes to scan my wife’s computer which has over 60,000 files on it. I’ll also note that it has a reduced memory footprint likely helps with the speed.

Now for what I wasn’t thrilled about. You have buttons for “Fix Performance”, “Family Safety” and “LiveKive” (for online backup). These are all paid services and it isn’t clear until after you click on them that this is the case. In the case of “Fix Performance”, it will scan the computer for problems. But it makes you buy the product to actually fix them. I must admit that I’m not a fan of that. I’m all for companies trying to sell their stuff. But please, don’t make it seem like a bait and switch.

The bottom line? AVG Internet Security 2013 offers powerful protection. The thing is that AVG also offers AVG free antivirus which while not having the same features of the paid product, will protect you just fine. If your needs are simple, then you don’t need to spend $60 to get decent protection. But if you want complete protection, then take a look at AVG Internet Security 2013. You’ll be glad you did.

AVG Announces 2013 Product Range

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 17, 2012 by itnerd

AVG is a long time security vendor that I have a high regard for. Thus when I got a press release from them today announcing their 2013 product line, it got my attention. Let me hit some highlights starting with the range of products for 2013:

  • AVG AntiVirus FREE – great protection for surfing the web, emailing and social networking without costing a cent
  • AVG AntiVirus – for that additional peace of mind, AVG Antivirus offers advanced protection for surfing the web, social networking and downloading
  • AVG Internet Security – this is the ultimate package for online protection, securing activities such as shopping and banking
  • AVG Premium Security – for those who want the ultimate protection plus more, AVG Premium Security delivers advanced privacy controls and enhanced PC performance
  • AVG PC TuneUp – works to speed up the PC by cleaning the hard drive, and eliminates freezing and crashing.

A couple things to note, they were the first company to put out a free antivirus product a decade ago. Also I should also note that their products are Window 8 ready and are they work with touch-screen technologies. Not to mention improved scanning speed and reduced memory footprint which are important factors that make AVG products ones to consider.

This lineup is complimented by offerings for mobile users:

  • AVG AntiVirus FREE for Android – this is essential protection for mobile devices
  • AVG AntiVirus Pro for Android – combats viruses and malware so users can make calls, receive SMS, download music, video, and apps, and surf the web confidently, knowing they’re always kept safe
  • AVG Family Safety products for iOS and Windows Phone – these free products provide a secure and family-friendly web browser that helps protect children from inappropriate websites.

All these products are now available for download from

Sophos Releases FREE Anti Virus Software For Mac

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 3, 2010 by itnerd

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The reality distortion field generated by Steve Jobs isn’t going to protect your Mac from viruses and trojans. That is a growing threat that Mac users need to pay attention to. Now I’ve been running ClamXav for a while now, but I’ve decided to give a new entrant to the market a try. Sophos has come out with a free anti virus application (as long as you’re a home user). My take? I have installed this application and I see no slow down in my system and it doesn’t get in the way. Exactly what I’m looking for in an anti virus app. Plus it comes from one of the better known anti virus companies around which gives it some serious street cred. I’ll continue to run it and I’ll let you know what I think, but so far it looks like a winner to me.


Be Warned: Trojan Pretends To Be Microsoft Security Essentials

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on February 27, 2010 by itnerd

I spent the day at two clients today. One who needed her laptop tweaked after having a new hard drive installed by a major retailer, and someone who got infected by a very interesting trojan that I’d like to tell you about. Apparently, she clicked on a link that allowed her to download what she thought was Microsoft Security Essentials. But in reality it was a trojan, and she figured it out when it it said that she had to pay to scan her hard drive. I did some research and discovered this Microsoft note on the subject. It is a really nasty bug and it took me the better part of an hour to get rid of it as stuff like this is really difficult to kill.

So be warned, if you see a link or an offer to download “Security Essentials 2010”, you should run quickly in the other direction.

I’ve Installed An Antivirus App For Mac… Seriously

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 13, 2010 by itnerd

I’ve been busy for the last few days, but I had enough time to add some new protection to my Mac in the form of antivirus software.

You read that correctly.

Here’s the deal. There are threats out there for Macintosh. Most of them are trojans and you need some sort of protection from them and other threats that may appear in the future. The good vibes of Steve Jobs is not going to be enough to keep Macs safe and Apple seems not to have done much with the antivirus software that was rumored to be built into Snow Leopard, so that means Mac users will have to fend for themselves. The good news is that Mac users have a free option that works well. ClamXav is a free and open source antivirus option that has been included in Mac OS X Server for years now. The scan engine takes very little CPU power and the entire application. Configuring the application takes a bit of work, but it’s doable by novices. Once configured, it will scan your hard drive automatically and it will check your incoming e-mail for anything “nasty.” While the app is free, the author does ask for donations. So if you use it, please consider flipping the author a couple of bucks.

So if you’re a Mac user, you should install a copy of ClamXav sooner rather than later. As more virus writers target the Mac platform, Mac users are going to need protection, and the price for ClamXav is hard to beat.

Microsoft Security Essentials: It’s Totally Worth It

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 30, 2009 by itnerd

I’m the type of person who calls it like I see it. In the case of Microsoft Security Essentials, this is a winner. Yes, you heard me correctly. I like a product that Microsoft makes. That should show you how good it is. Here’s why I like it:

  • It’s easy to install. All you have to do is download the installer, run it and it does the rest for you. It then downloads the latest virus definitions and does a quick scan of your hard drive. Best of all, it is crystal clear about what it’s doing and what it may need you to do. Oh yeah, during the install it will verify that you have a legit copy of Windows, but it won’t ask you to register or anything like that.
  • The user interface is simple and easy to understand. If you see lots of green, you’re protected and everything is right in the world. If you see red, the fit has hit the shan and you need to see what has gone wrong. This is great for novice users.
  • The application is quiet. It only seems to bother users when it actually needs something, such as it finding a virus and user input is required to deal with it.
  • It doesn’t suck a ton of CPU power. Most users won’t know it’s running.
  • It actually works. I tested it with the EICAR Standard Anti-Virus Test File and it was able to find it and deal with it easily.

My recommendation is that if you want an anti-virus application and you either don’t have one (which is really dangerous IMHO) or you’re running something free, you should at least take a look at Microsoft Security Essentials. Even those who are paying for something might want to take this for a spin as well. It’s free, simple and it works well. You can’t ask for anything more than that.

Microsoft Security Essentials Anti-Virus Software Available For Download

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 29, 2009 by itnerd

Now you truly have no excuse to run an anti-virus application on your Windows PC. Microsoft Security Essentials is now out and you can download it from here. It works with XP, Vista, and Windows 7 and does the following according to the software giant:

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.

You’ll note the asterisk after the word free. It just happens to denote a rather important point:

*Your PC must run genuine Windows to install Microsoft Security Essentials.

That means that if you got your copy of Windows from the back of a truck, you’re out of luck.  Too bad they have to use the much hated WGA software to validate that your copy of Windows.

In any case, I’ll be sucking down a copy and installing it on my Windows 7 box. I’ll let you know what I think of it.

Weird Antivirus Issue With Windows 7 [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 25, 2009 by itnerd

I’ve been running the Windows 7 Ultimate RTM (RTM=Release To Manufacturing – The version of Windows 7 that will ship in October) for some time now (And before you ask, I did not get this from a torrent site. I am a member of the Microsoft Developers Network which allows me access to this software) and I tripped over a rather interesting problem that I’ll share on the off chance that this might help anyone else who has this issue.

After setting up a fresh install of Windows 7 and installing AVG 8.5, I encountered an issue in which Windows 7 displays a message indicating that there is “no Internet Access,” accompanied by a yellow exclamation point warning sign, despite the fact that Internet access works properly in all applications. Weird I thought. So since AVG was the last thing installed before the problem occurred, I removed it. Presto! The problem went away. Here’s where things get weird. I installed the release candidate of Kaspersky for Windows 7 and got the same issue. I uninstalled it and again everything worked. Next I tried AntiVir and got the same result. So I knew that this wasn’t specific to any one antivirus product. So I installed AVG again and started to disable one function at a time. I was finally able to isolate the problem to AVG’s Search Shield which is part of the Link Scanner that the product comes with. Once I disabled that, everything works. I’ve since replicated this behavior on another computer running another RTM version of Windows 7 (Home Premium in this case).

So if you run into a similar problem, here’s how you fix it if you have AVG:

  • Click on the AVG icon in the task bar (lower-right hand corner)
  • Then select “Link Scanner”
  • Uncheck the “Enable AVG Search-Shield” box.
  • Restart your computer

I’m not sure what the deal is with the Link Scanner and Windows 7, but I can only assume that it must interface in some way with the networking software within Windows 7 that causes some sort of issue. I can also only assume that a similar fix can be applied to Kaspersky and AntiVir.

Hopefully this gets sorted out by the time Windows 7 ships in October. While this isn’t a major issue (as you can still surf the Internet and the antivirus application still works), less technical users might see this as a reason not to run an antivirus application and that would be a dangerous thing to do.

UPDATE: If you look at the comments, I’ve been contacted by Karel Obluk of AVG and I have responded to him via e-mail. Also, I did some Googling today and came across this post on which describes the same issue and the same fix. I wish I had seen this the other night as it would have saved me a lot of trial and error.

Does Snow Leopard Have Built In Antivirus?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 25, 2009 by itnerd

Seeing as I don’t have a copy of Snow Leopard to confirm this, this is only a rumor at this point as far as I am concerned. But it’s worth posting IMHO. Mac antivirus company Intego posted on their blog that Snow Leopard apparently comes with some sort of antivirus application built into the operating system:

We’re not sure yet exactly how this works, but the above screen shot [click the link to the original post to see it] shows this feature working with a download made via Safari, detecting a version of the RSPlug Trojan horse in a downloaded disk image.

Interesting. I guess that Apple takes the threat of viruses seriously, and I applaud them for taking this step (If that’s what they’ve done. Remember, I’m filing this under rumor at the moment). Why? It’s better to get a head start on dealing with these threats now rather than to panic and react badly the way Microsoft has. If the Mac continues to gain marketshare, virus writers are going to start targeting the Mac. Guaranteed.

It would be nice if Apple would confirm this even if to just say that it exists. So how about it Apple?