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

Questions and answers related to viruses, spyware, bots, rootkits and other nasties that can infect or wreak havoc with you computer.

Adware "cws,googlems,3" keeps getting reported by Pest Patrol, but won't delete. What do I do?

Adware "cws,googlems,3" is apparently a false positive report in some old versions of Pest Patrol. You might want to update the program.

Are all rootkits dangerous?

Rootkits are definitely dangerous and immediate steps need to be taken to clean this machine.

Are computers crashing everywhere because of something from Russia?

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.

Can I get a virus or spyware from a free video download?

Can I recover from a virus by just restoring my registry?

Viruses and other malware often work in part by making changes to your registry, so it's tempting to think that's all that needs to be restored. It's not.

Can I remove malware myself or do I need to pay someone?

Paying someone to remove a virus may be okay depending on how you found that person. If they found you... don't!

Can a camera's memory card transmit a virus to my PC or to another camera?

Theoretically it's possible for your camera's memory card to transmit a virus to another PC or camera, but the chances of that happening are very rare.

Can a computer virus spread behind my firewall?

Computer viruses spread in different ways. A firewall is very important but some computer viruses can spread on your local network if they make it across.

Can malware on my machine cause it to contact illegal sites?

Once your machine is infected with malware, it isn't your machine any more: it belongs to the person who is controlling the malware... and they could be doing anything.

Can my computer get a virus from my camera?

Cameras are not likely to themselves be infected by a virus, but without care they can act as carriers, transferring viruses from computer to computer.

Can software firewalls and security packages cause problems?

Software firewalls and other security packages can definitely help keep things more secure, but they can also add their own level of confusion as well.

Can someone make long distance calls through my computer?

Surprizingly, certain viruses can make costly long-distance calls using your computer. The best prevention is keeping your machine safe from viruses.

Dictionary Attack: What is it?

A dictionary attacks is a common brute force way of achieving a goal. The goal of a dictionary attack might range from compromising your system to simply sending spam.

Do Apple Computers get malware?

Apple computer viruses do exist, just not in large numbers... yet. Don't let a false sense of security get you into trouble.

How can I get rid of the 'keenval' trojan: downloader.keenval.B?

There are a couple resources to help get rid of the 'keenval' trojan: downloader.keenval.B

How can I stop this automatic email?

There are a couple things to investigate if your computer is trying to automatically send emails.

How can I tell if an exe is "safe" or not?

How can an infection like Antivirus XP 2008 happen?

Viruses seem to come at us from all directions, and lately that includes websites. We'll look at how this happens and what you need to do to stay safe.

How can we protect ourselves from botnets?

Botnets seem to be everywhere, and have become the single greatest source of spam and other malware transmission. Is it hopeless? Not at all.

How did I get all these viruses if I have anti-virus software?

Anti-malware tools need to be run frequently enough, and be kept updated to keep you safe. I'll look at what to consider when configuring protection.

How do I clear up these lingering problems after a malware infection?

Once your machine is infected, it's impossible to know that it's been completely cleaned. I'll look at the options, both ideal and practical.

How do I fix things on my computer left over from a virus?

If your computer is not completely restored... then you haven't removed the virus! I suggest a thorough course of action.

How do I get rid of is apparently spyware that's very difficult to get rid of.

How do I recover from a bad virus infection?

Recovering from a bad virus infection isn't always easy, but there are some things to try before drastic measures need to be taken.

How do I remove these keyloggers that remain after I removed a keylogger?

Once a keylogger has control of your machine, it is very difficult to remove completely. Trying to do it without reformatting might be a long road.

How do I run an anti-virus scan if I can't boot?

It's hard to run an anti-virus scan if you can't boot from the hard drive. To run an anti-virus or other scan, you'll need to take some special steps to boot from something else.

How do I safely backup an infected drive?

Once your machine is infected, system backups are likely to include the infection as well. I'll look at what steps to take when that happens.

How do I stop false positives in spam and malware reports?

Malware and virus detectors can show false positives for good products. Both software manufacturers and consumers need to know why and how this happens.

How do I tell if my ex has installed spyware on my machine?

How do I uninstall this search hijack that came along with another install?

Unwanted and even malicious tools can be downloaded along with free or upgraded software. Time to run some anti-malware tools.

How do I uninstall weather bug?

Weatherbug is adware, but not spyware. It can be removed fairly easily from your system.

I cleaned some malware called "wave eggs.exe", how do I protect myself in the future?

If you're infected with malware you should run an updated anti-spyware scan, and make sure you keep that tool running and updated and regularly.

I installed Microsoft Security Essentials and now things are worse! How do I recover?

When installing anti-malware tools on your machine makes things worse, it's one hint that there may already be a deeper problem.

I keep getting warnings that something is trying to change my browser. How do I stop that?

I'd start with Malwarebytes. But then, I'd be very careful moving forward to pay attention to what's being downloaded and what is being installed on your machine.

I lost the general tab in my internet options, how do I get it back?

Sometimes critical parts of applications like Internet Explorer go missing. It's often the result of spyware.

I think I've been "phished" - what should I do?

Phishing is an epidemic. Legitimate looking emails asking for sensitive information are often bogus. Phishing is on the rise, and you need to be aware.

If everything's infected, how do I get anything done?

Sometimes it might seem like everything's infected, but with a few steps and preparation you can work, surf and use the internet safely.

If people are getting spam from me, does that mean I have a bot infection?

There's a lot of spam flying around, and much of it might claim to be from you. It's not. Whether you have a bot infection is a different questions.

Is Viewpoint Spyware?

Is Virus and Salutations Center and MS Safety Scanner Safe?

Those names are just enough "off" to be suspicious. Internet Explorer might be blocking it for a very good reason!

Is it possible to get a virus from a music download?

Depending on where you're downloading your music files from, you may or may not be downloading a virus instead.

Is it safe to leave my modem on and connected all the time?

Is running two anti-spyware programs better than one?

You need to be careful when using more than one anti-spyware tool. Used improperly more than one tool can cause conflicts.

Is this message that I'm infected a hoax?

A pop-up message that says you may have a virus may, or may not be legitimate. Anti-virus companies don't make viruses, but virus makers do try to look like anti-virus companies.

Is this stuff in my 'hosts' file supposed to be there?

The "hosts" file can be used for good or evil. Anti-malware programs may use it to block things, and malware may use it to block anti-malware.

Malware prevents me from booting, even in Safe Mode. What do I do?

We'll try a bootable malware CD. But in situations like this, where malware has gotten itself so entrenched into the system, sometimes, reinstalling is the most pragmatic answer.

My email program won't receive after I dismissed a malicious pop-up. What do I do?

It's very likely that a pop-up got a toe-hold into your system and you'll need to take some steps against possible lingering malware.

My laptop is very slow - smsls. exe is using most of the CPU - what's up?

Should I be worried about this "WMF Exploit" that everyone's been talking about?

This computer's infested, what do I do?

There's no one answer as to what to do if your computer is infested, but my own personal experience may give you some guidance.

Viruses: How do I keep myself safe from viruses?

Computer viruses are a fact of modern life. Anti-virus software is required; both it and the database that it uses should be kept up-to-date.

What's 'BullsEye Network'?

BullsEye Network is adware, and should be removed with a spyware removal tool.

What's a "zero-day" attack?

A zero day attack is very simple: it's exploitation of a vulnerability before there's a fix for that vulnerability. We'll look at what that means.

What's a 'DSO exploit' and how do I get rid of it?

A 'DSO exploit' is a bug in IE that might possibly allow untrusted software to run. Make sure you're up-to-date and you should be safe.

What's in it for the creators of malware?

Malware has come a long, long way since its origination as a benign joke or proof-of-concept. Today most malware all boils down to someone, somewhere, making money.

What's the best Pop-Up Blocker? Anti-Virus Software? Anti-Spyware Software?

While there are no "best" pop-up blockers or other anti-virus/spyware software, having something reputable in place is better than nothing at all.

What's the difference between a 'Trojan Horse' a 'Worm' and a 'Virus'?

We hear about Trojan horses, viruses, and worms, but what do they mean? They're loosely related types of malware with different ways to cause trouble.

What's the difference between anti-virus, anti-spyware and internet security software?

Malware terminology has become more confusing over time. Definitions for anti-virus, anti-spyware and internet security are unclear and inconsistent.

Why did I get reinfected within seconds of connection to the internet?

If you're not protected by a firewall or have other measures in place, you can be reinfected by a virus within seconds of connecting to the internet.

Why does virus software expire?

Software designed to help in the battle against spam may take its expiration date seriously. Perhaps you should to.

Why has my computer been locked by cyber cops?

A computer locked by cyber cops means a virus is on your machine. In this case it's ransomware and specific steps need to be taken to free the computer.

Will malware always invalidate my Windows install, and what do I do if it does?

A computer that has suffered from a virus needs a thorough cleaning to be sure all symptoms of the virus are gone. It would have been nice to have an image backup...


Msgms.exe is part of the agobot worm, and needs to be removed using your anti-virus scanner.