Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

It's no surprise to hear about malware coming from overseas... This is nothing new and certainly nothing newsworthy. As always, good internet safety is the cure for this sort of rumor.

My computer crashed last week. My computer tech said it was happening everywhere. I heard nothing on it. He got a letter from the government saying it was believed to be from Russia. How come I haven't heard anything on the news? He fixed my computer and said it was as safe as he could make it. He suggested I change my username. I tried, but Yahoo kept kicking me out. What should I do? I'm running the latest Windows XP.

In this excerpt from Answercast #10, I try to sort out the facts about a rumor of malware from Russia. Is this a spoof or a mistake?

Malware from overseas

I'm a little confused; or perhaps what I should say is that it sounds to me like your computer tech is a little confused.

Malware has been around for a long time. Malware coming from Russia is nothing new and certainly nothing newsworthy. It's happening all the time; people do get infected, unfortunately.

It's what keeps questions flowing to sites like Ask Leo! and it's what keeps data recovery services in business.

Letter from the government

"He got a letter from the government" really makes me wonder. I don't know of any government sending out any letters having to deal with this.

I'd be really interested in seeing that letter. My guess is that either he got taken by someone who spoofed it or he's mistaking some other kind of letter for a letter from the government; potentially even a sales letter for some form of anti-malware tool.

So, the short answer is that you haven't heard anything on the news because it's not newsworthy. It's not news. It's commonplace. It does happen.

Practice good internet safety

You do need to practice good internet safety. I would point you immediately at the article "Internet Safety: how do I keep my computer safe on the internet?" as the best starting place to make sure you've got everything covered to keep your machine safe.

Change Yahoo username?

I don't understand the changing username scenario either.

  • If he's talking about your username on your computer, I don't see how that solves anything.
  • If he's talking about your username online (you mentioned your Yahoo account), it's not something that can be changed.

If you want to change a username on Yahoo, the only way to do that is to create a brand new Yahoo account with a new username and stop using your old one.

So, I'm fairly confused as to exactly what it was you were advised and why you were advised that; but I would point at my internet safety article as a great starting point to put into place the tools, the techniques, and the education to prevent this kind of thing from happening again in the future.

Next - How do I safely get security software onto my newly reinstalled machine?

Article C5224 - April 19, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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2 Comments
Dave
April 21, 2012 6:32 AM

I fully agree with Leo, no government is going to send computer techs such letters! Period! I very strongly feel that your tech is either grossly confused or just a really poor con artist.
Sure, there are virus' that CAN crash a computer, and some of these DO come from Russia. But 99.99% of the time they don't 'crash' your computer as that would do nothing for the sender of the virus.
Contrary to what many believe, most virus' aren't designed to maliciously damage a computer. That is merely a 'side effect' of their real intention - to steal information or become an have you become an unwilling participant in attacking other computers.
Their intention generally is to wipe out your browser and security software so that they have free reign. I get many customers that tell me they can't get on the internet. In reality, they ARE on the internet but they can't use their browser because it is so damaged. This stops you from downloading the proper anti-malware to get rid of the virus. The virus, however, IS on the internet sending all your personal info to wherever it was designed to.
Crashing your computer would stop a virus from doing it's real job.

DDDes
April 21, 2012 7:51 AM

My Ongoing Woes Seem To Revolve Around >ati2dvag-display driver or video card version>8.221-06012421-030152c-ATI~~Blue Screens Black Screens +Start Up Troubles (Quite An Array) Software I Purchased Were HIGH On Promises But LOW On Performance ~~ Can Anyone Out In Cyber-Space SOLVE This One For Me Please ?~~Regards DDDes.

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