Navigating the Computer Security Maze
In addition to Windows Defender, two other powerful antimalware
engines are Ad-Aware from Lavasoft and Search & Destroy from Spy-
bot. You should take the time to run different malware engines on
your computer. Each program provides different capabilities, includ-
ing the prevention of registry edits without your approval, and dictio-
nary scans to identify the malware on the computer.
Antimalware programs can identify and remove many of the unwanted programs on
your computer, including unwanted browser help objects, startup programs, registry
settings, toolbar buttons, Winsock hijackers, Internet Explorer plug-ins, ActiveX
controls, DNS hacks, and anonymous proxy rerouters. Each type of unwanted pro-
gram relates to methods that malware writers employ to get their malicious code
onto your computer. Some of the methods employ deceptive tactics to make you
believe you are loading a beneficial program onto your computer while manipulat-
ing data on your computer so that it can be accessed on remote servers. These pro-
grams leave you vulnerable to the less than savory strategy of the malware writer.
Currently many antivirus companies are beginning to enter the world of malware
removal by either using third-party applications or purchasing the engines of anti-
malware programs and integrating them into their own products for malware identi-
fication and removal. While malware may seem similar to a virus, it is indeed a
separate category of malicious code. Viruses replicate themselves from computer to
computer; malware is a silent threat that users usually unknowingly install.
Also, note that you may have to hand-edit the registry to remove some types of mal-
ware. If you require this type of intervention, take great care when editing your com-
puter’s registry. Editing the registry can render a computer unusable and require the
intervention of a recovery service or large amounts of time to correct. If you are not
comfortable editing the registry, consult a computer service or repair shop to remove
these types of malicious programs. Most computer service companies can remove
these programs within a short period and require only a small fee to clean your com-
puter. This can help immensely when the programs are embedded into the com-
puter or have metamorphic qualities.
Understanding Computer Viruses
The industry defines a computer virus as a program that spreads by inserting itself
into executable code, documents, or programs, and then self-replicates to other com-
puters using the compromised file. We refer to a computer with a virus as infected,
and we try to inoculate the computer against future infections. Viruses fall into the
broad category of malware, to the extent that they are usually malicious and some-
times harbor backdoors or Trojans.
Viruses were extremely common in the earlier days of computing and they had a dev-
astating effect on computers. Viruses come in all shapes and sizes, as well as varying