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Virus Computer|Viruses- AOL Anti-virus Fails- AOL Does Not Protect You From Spyware and Viruses- Part 1
Virus Computer|Viruses. AOL Anti-Virus Fails- Recently, a long time client who accessed the Internet via High Speed DSL decided on his own to disable his firewall (that I installed in 2003) because he was irritated by the Firewall pop-up requests to allow or deny access. This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Series.
He also disabled it because AOL Technical Support had him do so as part of troubleshooting the AOL log-on process.
Further, he was ignoring some error messages from the anti-virus program that I previously installed. Essentially, the anti-virus program was partially disabled and could not download updates and thus he was wide open to computer viruses.
Head In the Sand?
This client had always expressed doubt that computer viruses were a real threat.
He was also of the opinion that AOL protected him from computer viruses and spyware.
My client is not alone in his opinion. Many people do believe the AOL television commercials about how well they protect you from the Virus and Spyware Bad Guys (VBG’s and SBG’s respectively).
This assumes of course that AOL’s computer anti-virus and anti-spyware protection is perfect. They are not.
There is no such software currently in existence.
It also ignores the fact that many AOL users also access the Internet apart from AOL. AOL is not the only way to access the Internet for surfing or for Email.
People have non AOL Email accounts and they only require Internet Explorer or another browser to access the Internet once connected.
Therefore even if AOL anti-virus and anti-spyware protection were perfect (and they is not) users are still vulnerable to virus computers when they connect to the Internet outside of AOL.
What Happened With My Client?
Computer Viruses disabled Norton Anti-Virus and prevented it from doing updates of its Virus Definition file. The computer viruses edited the Hosts file and blocked access to every major anti-virus company website. It essentially rerouted all such requests back to the computer itself (it used address 127.0.0.1).
I immediately and temporarily enabled the native Windows XP one way, defensive firewall. My client specifically asked me not to reinstall Zone Alarm because of his irritation with the its pop up windows.
I thought that I would later reinstall Zone Alarm, a muscular two way firewall, after subsequent conversation and persuasion with my client. It blocks some, but not all VBG’s and SBG’s both going and coming into the computer.
After fixing the Hosts file by deleting all the bad addresses, I used 4 anti-virus programs to detect and kill 138 viruses on my client’s machine.
Each one of these anti-virus programs found mostly different computer viruses. The point here is that no single anti-virus program detected and killed all the viruses. Again, there is no perfect anti-virus program.
Due to time constraints, I used only two anti-spyware programs to detect and kill 38 spyware programs. I generally use up to six. Here again, the point is that no single anti-spyware program will kill all the spyware.
Further, the key point here is that AOL did not protect this client from 138 viruses and 38 spyware.
Of course, another factor was the fact that he had no firewall on a broadband connection. This left the front gate of his computer WIDE OPEN to the VBG's and SBG's. This left him vulnerable to computer viruses by virus computers lurking on the Internet looking for an opening.
The Story Continues.
The next day my client reported the error, “NTLDR is missing, Press Any key to restart”. This was observed on system boot (start up). The system would not access Windows.
To make a long story short, none of the Microsoft and other resource troubleshooting steps were able to fix this problem.
It appears that one of the computer viruses that was deleted or possibly a new virus or one still remaining damaged the boot sector. One of the other remote possibilities is a loose or faulty IDE hard drive cable.
In a telephone consult with my client, I ran SpinRite, the outstanding hard drive repair and diagnostic utility, to check for hard drive physical defects. It found none. Therefore the IDE hard drive was not the culprit or SpinRite would have reported an error.
The options were as follows:
1. To reformat the drive and reload all the software including Windows. By the way, the client had no backup. For information on our recommended backup solution see our review of software for Computer Backup .
2. To buy a new laptop and reinstall all the software given the current and future cost of repairs to the client. Another consideration is that the laptop is 2-3 years old.
As of this writing the client is considering his options and left on vacation. He is leaning towards buying two new computers and setting up a wireless network.
What Is The Moral of the Story?
• Anti-virus software is not a luxury.
• Spyware Killer|Remover weapons are not a luxury.
• A muscular firewall is not a luxury.
Do you want to lose all your data (financial transactions, documents, pictures, music files, contact information, emails and more) or buy a new computer because you agreed with my client regarding the absence of computer viruses and virus computers?
Or perhaps you agreed because you believed the AOL television commercials?The choice is yours. You may protect yourself or welcome internet lurking virus computers with their payload of computer viruses.
You can pay me a little money now for installation and configuration of your anti-virus, anti-spyware, computer backup and firewall programs. Alternately you can pay me a lot of money later for a new computer or for reformatting and rebuilding all the software on your hard drive.
So How Do I Protect Myself?
I’m not going to leave wondering what to do. Check out
Also peruse my Spyware Killer|Remover Confessions and The Twelve Signs That Your Machine is Infected With Spyware for actions you can take.
For a Firewall I recommend Norton Personal Firewall.
And don’t forget to do Computer Backup.
You can now go to Part 2 of Virus Computer|Viruses.
Remember that AOL Anti-virus fails and there really are computer viruses and virus computers.
To contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org