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Issue #441: January 3–9, 2016

Q: I get notices from my PC to do updates on about 9 pieces of software that seem to be for peripherals, or for parts of the computer itself.  I’m talking about stuff like Realtek USB 2.0 Card Reader, AMD USB 3.0 Host Controller, and other stuff like the Ethernet controller, and even the system’s video card.  Is it important to update these?  Will these made a lot of changes to deal with?  Thanks for your info. Love your column.

– Teresa F.
Odessa, Texas

A:  It is always important to make sure you are running the latest versions of all the operating system, drivers, and important software applications.  The updates to the operating system and drivers are particularly important, since vendors release updates and new versions on a regular basis as errors or security problems are found in their software.

I have to say though, you seem to have an unusually high number of updates waiting to be done.  I’m worried about malware, though I’m not familiar with any malware that does its misdeeds by complaining about outdated drivers.  Still, anything is possible.  Make sure that whatever is reporting that these updates are required is legitimate, such as Windows Update, or a utility that you have intentionally installed to help keep your system up to date.  Otherwise you may be opening the door to the installation of something on your computer that you don’t want.  Have no fear though, if the updates are coming through a legitimate source.  You should not notice a lot of changes, but you will enjoy increased system security and reliability by keeping everything up to date.

 Q: Somehow after downloading Windows 10, I did something that corrupted my computer. I’ve had a pro come to my home without success. No matter how many times I run Windows Defender and/or SuperAntiSpywear the same corruption events occur.

I have no problem working in Yahoo email. No problem working on routine websites, such as online banking, Amazon, etc. The problem occurs when I work in the Internet. Full page ad pop ups occur when I drill into the site; urgent error messages “call______immediately”; even voice instructions: “You computer is corrupted…”  I’m almost to the point of just buying a new computer. 

I’m thinking of turning over my computer to the folks at Best Buy but I’m concerned they will add things and remove things I don’t want. Can I trust the Geeks at Best Buy to finally resolve my problems? 

– Arthur W.
Miramar Beach, Florida

A:  Well, you’ve managed to confuse me, Arthur.  When you’re on Yahoo email, Amazon, or “online banking” you ARE on the Internet.  So, I’m not quite sure where you draw the line between when the problem happens, and when it doesn’t.

Regardless, your computer has an infection of a type of malware known as Ransomware. I might have been able to tell you exactly what it is if you would have quoted more precisely some of the error messages it’s throwing at you.  Whatever is infecting you is a mild one.  The worst offenders will scramble your data and hold it hostage until you pay someone for a code to unlock it.  Yours is merely Panicware, repeatedly declaring your computer corrupted, and trying to trick you into giving someone access to it.  If you do, they will use the opportunity to install something even worse, under the guise of fixing your problem.

Such infestations live very deep in the operating system, and cannot be cleaned off by typical malware utilities such as those you mentioned.  You’re asking me to make an endorsement of the Geek Squad at Best Buy, but I don’t do unpaid endorsements.    Having said that, any computer repair place worth its salt should be able to clean this off.  As the owner of the system, you  have full control of what they put on and what they take off.  So be firm, and don’t let them run roughshod over you.  Tell them what you do and don’t authorize them to do to your system, and stick to your guns.

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