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Issue #391: Jan 18–24, 2015

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Q: Is it possible to remove Antivirus Studio 2010 software from Windows XP and keep the remainder of system?  If so send me in direction?

– Noah P.
Baker, Florida

A: Now you just know at this point of the game that I’m going to chide you for trying to keep a Win XP system puttering along, right Noah?  It’s okay – I actually have one running at home, and so far it hasn’t tried to burn my house down or kill Spouse Peripheral or I in our sleep or anything.  Then again, I’m “The Geek” and hopefully I know a little about keeping the Internet Boogeymen away.  Like the one in your question, for example.

What you have is classic rogueware, something I’ve been talking about in the column since as far back as January 2010 (I.G.T.M. Issue #129).  Along the line, I’ve even provided links to some rogueware removal tools, but after all this time, some of those links probably aren’t reliable anymore, so after the obligatory explanation of what you’re dealing with, I’ll have some new links to provide.

Your rogue software was probably installed along with video codecs (translation files needed to display some types of video content), or when a dialog popped up while you were browsing, telling you your system is at risk, and offering a free scan.  Once installed, the rogueware app produces any number of false alerts and nag screens.  It will claim to have found countless virus infections, but will not remove them because it is only a “Trial Version”.  Don’t be fooled – both of these claims are false.  It might also tell you it has detected that you’re doing certain illegal activities on your PC, and that if you purchase the “full version” it can erase all the evidence for you.  Again, both claims are false.  The software is attempting to scare you into forking over money.

Getting rid of the software is actually fairly easy, if you know what tools will do it for you.  However, the best defense is not getting it in the first place, which requires some self-awareness on your part.  You need to pay close attention to what you’re clicking on when navigating unfamiliar websites.  You also should learn what a legitimate virus warning from your real virus scanner looks like, so you don’t get fooled into clicking on, and accepting, the installation of malicious software.  Also, put a good scanner into use, and then trust it to do its job.  No scanner will catch everything, but never fall for a dialog that randomly pops up and says “Your system is unprotected” when you know darn well that it is protected.

Okay, so here’s the payoff.  Most of the free anti-malware tools will remove this rogueware.  If you have a favorite, go ahead and try it, but I’m going to recommend Malwarebytes Antimalware.  Its free version is all you need.  I have two different links where you can get detailed instructions.  The first is in the discussion forum on Malwarebytes’ own website, at tinyurl.com/nawfh5x.  The other is on a website I frequent called Bleeping Computer, at tinyurl.com/2g37z9z.  The main difference is that the latter one includes a link to a utility that will help you to halt the running rogue software before attempting the removal.  That helps ensure that parts of it aren’t left behind when the remover gets done.

ItsGeekToMe.co (not .com):  If you haven’t been to my website recently, the “Bonus Web-Only Content” section is back this week with a special treat for those of you Geeks who were PC game players back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  Hit the site, and on the main page click the link to read this week’s issue – #391.  The bonus content is near the bottom of the page below.


 

Web-Only Bonus Content:

If you were around through the rise of the PC in the 1980’s and 1990’s (as I was) then the chances are that at some time or another you played video games on your PC.  Yes, before dedicated game-console machines developed the power that today’s Microsoft’s XBox, Sony PlayStation, and Nintendo Wii posess, there was the PC, with it’s hard-core VGA graphics and whopping 8- or 16-bit processing power.   Speaking as someone who has been a software developer since 1985, I must say I was always very impressed with what the engineers of the time managed to cram into 640k RAM and often only a 360k floppy drive.  Remember Oregon Trail?  How about Leisure Suit Larry?  Okay then, how about PacMan, Donkey Kong, and Frogger?  Surely you remember at least one of those titles.

If you miss the days of those old compter games, take heart!  The Internet Archive (yes, that’s a real website) recently announced the publication of almost 2,500 video games online.  Yes, you read that correctly — ONLINE.  Unlike the old days, all you need to run these games is an Internet connection and your web browser.  Here’s the key that will unlock the door to your past: https://archive.org/details/softwarelibrary/msdos/games.

DISCLAIMER: It’s Geek To Me is not responsible for loss of productivity or employment, detriment of familial relationships, failure to maintain financial affairs, or any pet malnourishment that may occur if you’re unable to tear yourself away from this monstrous entertainment archive once you enter it!  You’ve been warned.

By the way, as long as you’re wandering around the Internet Archive’s website, be sure and check out all their other archived content.  They have audio, video, text, and a searchable archive of over 435 billion pages of Internet history.  All I can say is, someone must have a very nice grant, and way more time on their hands than I have.

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2 Responses to “Issue #391: Jan 18–24, 2015”

  • Kris says:

    I was under the impression that the “Bleeping Computer” program was free, but I was asked to register and pay for any fixes by SparkTrust PC Cleaner. Was I duped or is this not free malware remover?

    • The Geek says:

      Bleeping Computer is not a free malware remover. It’s not even software — it is a website – http://www.bleepingcomputer.com. On their own front page, they describe themselves like this: “Bleeping Computer is a community devoted to providing free original content consisting of computer help and tutorials in such a way that the beginning computer user can understand.”

      You must register to be able to post and ask questions, just like here on ItsGeekToMe.co. BleepingComputer.com is quite a bit more interactive than ItsGeekToMe.co, and they handle issues that are very specific to a given computer and problem. Depending on the issue and question, the answer may recommend a particular piece of software to help with the diagosis and repair, but as far as I know, they try and choose Freeware whenever possible. Without futher information on exactly where you went on BleepingComputer.com (it’s pretty large) I can’t tell you why that particular piece of software was recommended. In the case of SparkTrust PC Cleaner, there is a free version that will perform evaluations, but if you want it to actually fix anything you must purchase a subscription.


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