A little help, please...
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Post Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:47 pm 
 

Two weeks ago something incredibly irratating started happening when I go to ebay. Something called ShopperReports.com pops up in place of my Favorites window. It really pisses me off and I can't seem to figure out how to get rid of it!

Any of you computer savy guys have a suggestions. I am on Windows XP...damn I miss my mac...running on Windows Explorer.


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:56 pm 
 

bbarsh wrote:Two weeks ago something incredibly irratating started happening when I go to ebay. Something called ShopperReports.com pops up in place of my Favorites window. It really pisses me off and I can't seem to figure out how to get rid of it!

Any of you computer savy guys have a suggestions. I am on Windows XP...damn I miss my mac...running on Windows Explorer.


Sounds like some spyware to me. You can use several different removal tools that are free on the web, however I had a very bad problem with spyware about 6 or 7 months ago and I could NOT get rid of it no matter what I used. I even tried to removing it manually but to no matter what I did it just kept coming back in a back door. I finally just said screw it and ended up having to reboot my whole system 3 times to finally get rid of it. The worst part of the story is that after the second time I rebooted, I was in the process of connecting online to reinstall my Firewall/Virus checker and I actually got hacked just as my Firewall was installing. My firewall did catch it, but it was already too late as F*ckin hacker had already started corrupting the files on my hard drive. :evil: :evil: :evil: Which led me to reboot number 3. Not a very good time for me at all. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:11 pm 
 

Try a combination of Ad-Aware ( Ad-Aware Free Antivirus and Antispyware by Lavasoft | Protection from Virus, Spyware & Malware | Top Internet Security for Windows ) and Spybot ( Download Spybot | Spybot © â„¢ - Search & Destroy ). Between the two, you should be able to nail it. It may take a reboot or two, as some spyware manages to lodge itself in your system files (where it can only be deleted from outside the Windows environment, i.e. on boot-up).

As a preventive measure, I'd also suggest either running Ad Watch (comes with Ad Aware), or even better, HOSTS Manager ( Blocking Unwanted Connections with a Hosts File ). HOSTS Manager blocks ads from ever appearing on your screen; instead, you get a bunch of "page not found" messages where the ads should be. The only downside to this is that sometimes your browser back button doesn't work too well (it's trying to go back to a blocked ad, and can't... you can "skip over" the ad, using the arrow next to your back button, though), and Auction Sieve needs a little help to work correctly (PM if you need the details).

Hope this helps --

Foul

  

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Post Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:25 pm 
 

There are several things you can do to combat spyware/malware.

1) If you don't have a firewall...get one.  There are lots of them and some of them are free.  But you get what you pay for.  Symantec has a bundle that comes with Norton Antivirus and Internet Security that has a built in firewall.  It has worked flawlessly for me for over three years.

2) If you already get pop-ups you can combat them with spyware removal tools.  You can download several from Free software downloads and software reviews - CNET Download.com.  I have used several including Spysweeper, Ad-Aware, and Spybot.  You may find that one of them won't remove everything but another will catch the stuff the other may miss.  Microsoft also has a spyware removal tool and blocker that seems to work pretty well.

3) Check your add/remove programs list and see if anything odd has installed itself.  Remove it.  If you arent sure, look it up on google.com.  You can find most removal instructions just by typing in the program or .exe file name on google search.  Also look in a folder called 'Downloaded Program Files' in your Windows directory.  Anything that looks suspicious can be removed.

4) Stop using Internet Explorer.  Try Mozilla Firefox or Avant's web browser.  If you have to use IE, make sure your pop-up blocker is active.

Bottom line is when spyware installs itself, unless you remove every file that is on your computer that it is associated with it, it will likely reinstall itself either on reboot or when another operation occurs.  You may have to find professional assistance since complete removal normally means you have to know how to make edits to your registry which can be very difficult unless you know what you are doing.

Oh yeah, it is also a good idea to turn off system restore when removing spyware.

  


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:39 pm 
 

I hope you are luckier than me, as I did all the things above and then some and none of it removed it permenantly. For me only a full system restore did the trick, although I would only suggest using that as an absolutely last resort. One thing outside of a Firewall that is vitally important is your ActiveX control settings. ActiveX is what a lot of web pages use to run programs and set installations on your browser. When you check your tools settings under security, make sure you have at least medium security settings set for all but your absolutely most trusted sites. You can actually set specific websites in your trusted sites so that you do not get the warnings and you can also set restricted sites that will block any attempt at accessing your ActiveX. It may get annoying sometimes when your computer pops up warnings on certain pages letting you know the page is trying to access ActiveX, but believe me in the long run it will save you a lot of headaches.


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 12:23 am 
 

Another thing to try in IE is to look at Tools->Manage Add-Ons
Look for anything you don't remember installing that looks suspicious and disable it and restart IE
I've found that many spywares will install things in there

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 2:00 am 
 

AVG was the program I used to remove that pesky spyware from a friend's machine.  Free download of 30 day trial software can be found at http://www.avg-antivirus.net

I always run 2 different virus/adaware programs, hoping what one doesn't catch the other one will!!   :D

  

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 3:20 am 
 

I have a win 2000 and AVG - and since I installed it, no spyware has ever got in. And I do a lot of... hmmm, artistic image research on the web  :wink:


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 9:25 am 
 

Lots of good advice above!  The #1 rule for protecting your machine these days, however, is quite simple:

If you're not a computer geek, make friends with one.  It might cost you a couple of beers, but it's worth it.  

(I like Labatt's Blue, if any of you are in Toronto.)

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 12:00 pm 
 

deimos3428 wrote:Lots of good advice above! The #1 rule for protecting your machine these days, however, is quite simple:

If you're not a computer geek, make friends with one. It might cost you a couple of beers, but it's worth it.

(I like Labatt's Blue, if any of you are in Toronto.)


All the computer geeks I know in Texas drink Shiners, so there is a good bit of advice for anywhere, just change the beer brand..

AOL gets a lot of grief, I still use it because I get it free every month through the AOL visa I use, and I have to say their new controls are pretty good.  They block 100% of pop ups, and their new junk mail sorter is pretty damn good, it gets around 99% of the stuff.  I haven't used the spyware component yet, but as everyone has said a combo of Ad Aware and Spybot seems to have done the trick for me.  My brother gave up AOL when he went to DSL, and he's been flooded with pop ups, spam and spyware, so I may just keep AOL a bit longer, as least as long as I cna get it free.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 12:54 pm 
 

Hello, I just wanted to add my 2cp worth of advice.
Aside from all of the great advice already listed I recommend getting away from Internet Explorer and start using another browser like
Firefox

IE allows manipulation of the operating system if you don't lock it down good enough and I think it will almost always be a security hazard.


-Brund


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:04 pm 
 

"Brund the Decrepit" what a fab name!!! :D

Al



  

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 3:40 pm 
 

Brund the Decrepit wrote:Hello, I just wanted to add my 2cp worth of advice.
Aside from all of the great advice already listed I recommend getting away from Internet Explorer and start using another browser like
Firefox

IE allows manipulation of the operating system if you don't lock it down good enough and I think it will almost always be a security hazard.


-Brund


P.S. I love the information here on The Acaeum, thank you.



The link actually goes to CNN not firefox :?


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:55 pm 
 

Blackmoor wrote:
Brund the Decrepit wrote:Hello, I just wanted to add my 2cp worth of advice.
Aside from all of the great advice already listed I recommend getting away from Internet Explorer and start using another browser like
Firefox

IE allows manipulation of the operating system if you don't lock it down good enough and I think it will almost always be a security hazard.


-Brund


P.S. I love the information here on The Acaeum, thank you.



The link actually goes to CNN not firefox :?



Eeegads! Where did that come from!
Link fixed... Sorry for that.   :oops:

  


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 5:29 pm 
 

killjoy32 wrote:"Brund the Decrepit" what a fab name!!! :D

Al



Cheers Al!  8)

  


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Post Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2005 5:13 pm 
 

FoulFoot wrote:Try a combination of Ad-Aware ( Ad-Aware Free Antivirus and Antispyware by Lavasoft | Protection from Virus, Spyware & Malware | Top Internet Security for Windows ) and Spybot ( Download Spybot | Spybot © â„¢ - Search & Destroy ). Between the two, you should be able to nail it. It may take a reboot or two, as some spyware manages to lodge itself in your system files (where it can only be deleted from outside the Windows environment, i.e. on boot-up).

Hope this helps --

Foul


Wow!  I'd just about given up on these bloody pop-up things that were impossible to remove.  Used to get one about every 30 mins or so.  Did as Foul said and 24 hours later... not a pop-up to be seen :D  :D  :D  .... almost miss the little blighters  :evil:   :cry:   :evil:
Cheers Foul

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 6:25 pm 
 

This comes from a non-RPG message board I frequent, where the people were encountering this kind of problem.  This is my solution.



A couple of weeks back, there were a couple of threads on the Announcements forum regarding virii, worms, and spyware on Windows computers.  I mentioned a couple of items people could do, but I didn't mention everything in one place.  This post is an information post with the sole purpose of putting all the information together into one place, along with some of the logic behind the choices.  Some of this information appears in the January issue of Maximum PC magazine.  Referenced sites and programs are hyperlinked.  In all instances, if an installed program prompts you to reboot your computer, reboot.  Failure to reboot can cause unforseen issues.



This How-To also presumes for some steps that Windows XP is installed.  If running an older version, most of this information should still work, although I make no guarantee on this.



Step 1: Before you even think of going onto the Internet, go to Windows Update and download Windows XP Service Pack 2 and install it.  Don't ask why, just do it.  Reboot your computer once Windows XP Service Pack 2 is installed.



Step 2: Return to Windows Update once the computer boots up and download all critical fixes, all optional updates, and all drivers.  Even with broadband, this process may take some time.  Reboot your computer when directed.



Step 3: Download a different browser.  Internet Explorer has very significant flaws that not even Windows XP Service Pack 2 can fix.  Recommended browsers: Firefox, Opera (note that the free version of Opera is ad supported, while Firefox is not.)  Whichever browser you decide to download and install, set it to be the default browser, as it would not do to download a more secure browser and not use it.  In general, a message box should appear the first time you run the browser, asking if you would like to make it the default.  Make sure you have selected the option to NOT have the browser ask you again, and then click "Yes" or "OK".



Step 4: Install your Anti-virus program, if you already have one.  If you don't have one already, an excellent free option is AVG Antivirus from Grisoft.  This program is very comprehensive, and frequently updated by Grisoft.  After installing it, the program will prompt you to update the virus definitions.  Do this before proceeding further, as the virus definitions in the download are out of date.  Another free virus program is Avast Antivirus.



Step 5: Download a firewall.  The firewall included in Windows XP Service Pack 2 is very basic, only restricting incoming requests while permitting outbound requests (not good if you got a piece of spyware that phones home).  Recommended firewalls: ZoneAlarm (because it doesn't cost anything and works extremely well.), Kerio Personal Firewall, Agnitum Outpost Firewall, Sygate Personal Firewall



Step 6: Protect yourself from adware, spyware, and malware.  Since no single spyware program works against all types of spyware, I take a multi-pronged approach to the problem and use the following three programs:



  • SpywareBlaster differs from other spyware detection programs by actively preventing most spyware from being installed in the first place.  Specificially, SpywareBlaster prevents installation of ActiveX-based spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other potentially unwanted pests.  It also blocks tracking cookies, and restricts actions of potentially dangerous sites in Internet Explorer.  Since I use Firefox, that last one isn't so important to me.
  • Spybot - Search & Destroy is the first of the two standard spyware detectors I use.  Very effective, it actively works with SpywareBlaster in preventing spyware from being installed, but also does a fantastic job of rooting out other spyware programs.
  • Ad-Aware is the heavy hitter of this grouping.  Ad-Aware is designed to provide advanced protection from known Data-mining, aggressive advertising, Parasites, Scumware, selected traditional Trojans, Dialers, Malware, Browser hijackers, and tracking components.  With the release of Ad-Aware SE Personal edition, Lavasoft takes the fight against spyware to the next level.

Step 7: Set up an email account using one of the free email services available.  While not a flawless system, utilizing a garbage email account for those sites where you have to provide an email address allows your main email address to be relatively free of spam.  I personally have three different email accounts.  One is exclusively for ebay, as I buy on there.  One is my Yahoo account, which while it gets whacked regularly with spam, works very well because Yahoo's spam filters are really quite good.  The third account is the garbage account, where all the debris from my jaunts on the web gets sent.  This third account when it fills, gets dumped.



Step 8: Change your HOSTS file.   The Hosts file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. This file is loaded into memory at startup, then Windows checks the Hosts file before it queries any DNS servers, which enables it to override addresses in the DNS. This prevents access to the listed sites by redirecting any connection attempts back to the local machine. Another feature of the HOSTS file is it's ability to block other applications from connecting to the Internet, as long the the entry exists.



This is useful for blocking ad servers, adware sites, and other such junk.  For more information, including how to put the HOSTS file on your computer, go to this page: Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File.  If you already know what a HOSTS file is, and just wish to update yours, you can get it here: HOSTS.  This is a compressed file, so you will need either WinZip or WinRAR to uncompress the file.  It's highly recommended that after you install the HOSTS file, you set its attributes to read-only.  There is a pair of small files on the Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File page that will allow you to lock and unlock the HOSTS file as necessary.



Step 9: If you want to automate the running of these programs, open up the Windows XP Task Scheduler and add the following programs to the list at the recommended frequency if not already present:




NOTE: You may not have to manually add the antivirus program.  Norton Antivirus automatically adds itself to the task scheduler, and AVG Antivirus version 6 (which I used on software installs until version 7 was released) had a built in timer, eliminating the need to use the task scheduler for that piece of software.



Step 10: Update, update, update.  The operating system, the browser, the firewall, the antivirus program, the spyware programs, and the HOSTS file all need upkeep in order for them to remain effective.  It's become second nature for me to check for updates on everything, which is why the original version of this post didn't mention it.  Each and every one of these programs, except for the HOSTS file, has a routine within it that searches for updated components at the press of a button, and generally you can do the check before you actually run the program.  I check the spyware programs on a weekly basis at the time I have them scheduled to run (step 9 above), check the browser on a monthly basis, and let the operating system do its thing automatically.  Windows XP Service Pack 2 has a special task scheduler specifically for updates.  Advice on setting it is below.



Once you have done all these steps, your computer will have far fewer issues with spyware.  Since I took this approach with the purchase of this computer I am typing this on, I've encountered at most 1 piece of spyware a week, compared with some computers I've seen where on cleaning them out I had some 350 different pieces of spyware on it, and that was just doing a routine scan with AdAware!  



After installing all this stuff though, I do recommend a few things to tidy up Windows XP and to allow the system to run smoothly:



First, you should turn off all of Windows XP's annoying little "features". Here's a short list of Windows XP's worst antagonists.



  • Disable the annoying search helper: Go to Start, then Search, and click "Turn off animated character."
  • Resize the Recycle Bin and System Restore: Right-click the Recycle Bin and go to Properties. Move the slider from 10 percent-that's 40GB of a 400GB driveto a more reasonable 1 percent. The System Restore setting is in the System control panel. Right-click My Computer and select Properties, or - shortcut alert! - press the Windows key and Pause/ Break, then click System Restore. Move that slider until System Restore uses only about 600MB of space.
  • Resize your pagefile. To change the size of the pagefile, right-click My Computer and select Properties, or press the Windows key and Pause/ Break, then click the Advanced tab, and click the Settings button in the Performance section. Click the Advanced tab again, and then click Change. Set the pagefile to 1 1/2 times the amount of memory in the computer then keep pressing OK until you're back at the Desktop. Reboot your computer.
  • Set the Automatic Update interval: While you're in the System control panel, click the Automatic Updates tab. If you're not going to remember to install updates fairly regularly, you absolutely must set Windows to automatically download and install updates for you every week.

Second, before you start installing any other applications, it's a good idea to give your hard drive a powerful defrag. When Windows XP is running, the pagefile and the portions of the drive reserved for System Restore checkpoints cannot be defragged, so before defragging, I always disable both System Restore and the pagefile.  However, only turn off the pagefile if you have more than 256MB of RAM. Windows XP will not run if this warning is ignored.



To disable System Restore, open the System control panel (Windows key and Pause/Break) and click the System Restore tab. Now check "Turn off System Restore". To temporarily disable the pagefile click the Advanced tab, and click the Settings button in the Performance section Click the Advanced tab again, and then click Change. Click "No paging file," then keep pressing OK until you're back at the Desktop. Reboot your computer.



When you reboot, open up defrag by opening My Computer and right-clicking your C: drive. Go to Properties, then Tools, then Defragment Now, and on the subsequent screen, click Defragment. After defrag finishes, go back into the System control panel and re-enable the pagefile and System Restore at the sizes recommended above. Reboot your computer, and it should purr quite nicely.



Hopefully this little how-to is of some use.  It may not be applicable to everyone, and it may contradict what some of the pundits out there recommend.  This is merely what I found to be a workable solution to the spyware problem on all fronts, as well as dealing a bit with the issue of spam and system optimization.



  
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