Fake AntiVirus (FakeAV)

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July 12th, 2010

Fake AntiVirus (FakeAV), also known as a “Rogue AntiVirus”, Rogues, or ScareWare, is a class of malware that displays false alert messages to the victim concerning threats that do not really exist. These alerts will prompt users to visit a website where they will be asked to pay for these non-existent threats to be cleaned up. The FakeAV will continue to send these annoying and intrusive alerts until a payment is made or when professionals like Computer Care Associates gets rid of the problem.

During the last year, the number of FakeAV has mushroomed. We have seen evidence of this by the numbers of customers who call us to help them extricate their computer from the clutches of this culprit.

This huge rise in popularity among this type of malware writers is primarily due to the direct revenue source that FakeAV provides. Compared to other classes of malware such as bots, backdoor Trojans, downloaders and password stealers, FakeAV draws the victim into handing money over directly to the malware author.  FakeAV is also associated with a thriving affiliate network community that makes large amounts of money by driving traffic toward the stores of their partners.

The more someone tries to escape from the Fake AV Security Messages, the more problems occur.  Users who think they can escape, can’t. It makes it worse.  It is like being tied up, the more you struggle….the tighter the knot becomes.

Users who recognize they have a problem of this Fake alert are on the right track. The best action is turn off your computer.  Let the professionals clean up the mess!  Call Computer Care Associates (508-370-8080) and we will rid your computer of these types of problems.

You are Damned if you do and Damned if you don’t.

June 24th, 2010

Do I secure my computer with a security suite?   There are several protection packages that include a firewall, spyware protection, antivirus protection and web browsing protection.  Do they really help?

My answer to this is they do not help give your computer extra protection.  Instead, they slow down your computer from booting up and from opening applications. 

I recommend an antivirus program called Avast AntiVirus (free edition) which is found on the Computer Care Associates website LINK page.  Avast AntiVirus constantly scans your computer, giving the user protection from Viruses and Spyware. 

For the (at risk) individual who “surfs the internet” I often put on a free firewall.  However, there are risks associated with web sites.

People often ask me “how did I get that virus?”   The answer usually involves common sense; however occasionally spyware can be transmitted from a web site. 

Certain web sites that you trust and visit daily can be hacked to distribute spyware.  Most of the time, the spyware is in the form of “ransomeware” which can show up as a warning on your computer.  It may say you have viruses and tell you the only way to get rid of the spyware is to purchase a phony antivirus software over the internet. [so, be aware that there is this type of marketing ploy]  You can also fall victim of “drive by downloads” which happens automatically without any user action, other than visiting the site.

 All browsers (IE or Foxfire] are equally at risk for attacks.  There are ways to secure your computer so these risks are minimized. 

When I optimize a computer I look for certain software that is used to exploit the browsers.  One thing I make sure I do is to uninstall old “java” software and install the newest java software.  The newest java software has fixed many older problems.  So when I see old java” applications, that’s one red flag that I see.

 Although nothing is fool proof and nothing is fully protected from harm or from having your privacy invaded, there are things to look for.  Do you use software to share music such as LimeWire?  Do you download those cute smiley icons? Do you download “free” software without reading the license agreement?  (there is good SW and bad SW that will bring in a problem.  Personally, I have tested “free” software on the internet and know what is good and what is bad.)

A good rule of thumb is – if it seems too good to be true it probably is.

Keeping your computer in good working order

June 5th, 2010

Computer  Care Associates in Framingham, MA will do everything to keep your computer in good working order.  However there comes a time when a computer is over 5 years old, and due to constant technological advances and software requirements – your 5+ year old computer should be upgraded. 

For this type of machine, the best advice is to buy a new computer and transfer the data.  Transferring the data is not as easy as it sounds.  You don’t want to transfer viruses, spyware or any corruption from the old computer to the new computer.  We scan the data with several different antivirus scanners, and malware scanners to make sure the data is clean before moving it to a newer machine.  Then the data can be transferred safely.


1) the hard drive needs to be removed from the old computer, backed up and scanned. 


2) the data can be backed up to an external hard drive and scanned.

We do not sell new computers, however we consult on buying new computers.  We find out what you use the computer for and advise on how much memory you need, and the type of processing speed you need. 

We also will setup the new computer once your purchase has arrived.  However you must provide the software applications such as Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, Quicken, etc.  A cloning process to move these applications from the old computer to the new one is possible but not recommended.  The best policy is to put the applications freshly installed into the new computer without bringing in old problems from the old computer.

Reliable Computer Software & Products

June 22nd, 2009

One of the best ways to make sure your protection is what you want is to request a 30-day evaluation.   This can also be a problem because “rogue” (phony) software can pretend to give you a “free” scan.  These “free” scans will put viruses and spyware in your computer and blackmail you into purchasing their poor software

Computer Care Associates has personally tested various software applications and recommends certain products.  Check out our LINKS page on our website for recommendations. 

Our own personal experience with certain software products may differ from yours.  Before downloading any of the protections listed, review (or add comments) our BLOG or contact us at 508-370-8080.  Feel free to comment if you have an opinion about certain software products.

For an explanation of our SERVICES, please explore our new website.  We have also included TESTIMONIALS from customers, past and present.  Thank you for your personal referrals and continued associations. 

Computer Care Associates has updated and improved their website.  We encourage your comments and have worked to make our website user-friendly.  Please stop off to visit the new website.  The address is:  www.help4computers.com.

Optimizing a Computer

May 31st, 2009

When you are considering “optimizing” a computer, the goal is usually to have that computer run faster and more efficiently. 

More visable improvement in performance can be seen in defragmenting a hard drive, cleaning the computer from temporary files, and performing a spyware or virus scan using tested software.  DO NOT USE SOFTWARE THAT HAS NOT BEEN TESTED.  We provide a list of links that have been tested and verified that are not spyware.  Even if you have anti-virus, you can still run an online antivirus check.


1.      The first thing I do is make sure those important data files are backed up!

2.      Defragment the hard drive

3.      Clean out temporary files

4.      Uninstall old versions of Java, download the latest version

5.      Scan with Malwarebyte, Spybot, and Superantispyware

6.      My next step is to scan with “hijackthis” which shows me everything that is running….including the software installed and various other components (“hijackthis” should only to be used by an expert)

7.      Scan for viruses using an on-line scanner

8.      Add additional memory if required

9.      Remove those resource hungry software applications such as AOL, McAfee, Norton, Security Suites, etc.

10.   There is more to Optimizing a computer than people realize, and it can take hours.  Various precautions are taken to ensure that data is not lost or compromised.

What’s your opinion about Registry Cleaners?

May 30th, 2009

Basically, my advice is – don’t use a Registry Cleaner.  They don’t “optimize” a computer (more on that in a future blog), and in fact they are more harmful to your Registry than you even know. It is not worth the risk.  The majority of internet ads out in cyberspace that tout Registry Cleaners will, in fact, cause your computer to have further problems and  your computer will likely crash.    

Another problem is that unless the program creates a restore of the registry or a backup of the registry, a mistake can turn a computer into a big old paper weight!

Quoting from another experienced Computer technician and blogger….“Don’t run registry cleaner programs, period…….If anyone has done any serious performance testing on this class of software, I’d be interested in seeing it. In the absence of really rigorous testing and fail-safe design, I say: Stay far away from this sort of utility.” click here for link to Ed’s blog

In addition, this website has more information about Registry Cleaners and why you should not trust them:


” . . . The problem with most registry repair titles is that they are based on the same open source software script . . . they are being sold by companies that didn’t develop them – and therefore have no real understanding of their function or even how they work. The result is that you risk installing an inferior piece of software that can permanently damage your computer”

Another excerpt:

“The issue lies in the explosion of spam-review sites which are nothing more then websites promoting affiliate links under the guise of an official ” review ” site. There main goal is to accomplish one thing – to send you to the site they are promoting and hoping you buy the product they are selling – if you do, they get up to a 75% cut of the sale. In other words, their reviews are up for sale – and are not anything but thinly veiled sales pitches. For example, if you do a search for the term ” Paid Survey ” or ” Registry Repair ” you’ll notice that the paid listings all include sites that say ” read our review ” or ” warning, don’t download anything until you read this…”

Recommended Protections (Software)

May 29th, 2009

Q:  What types of software do you recommend when it comes to anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware (or anti-malware) protections?

A:  On my link  page, I offer recommendations for these types of software.  Of course, your anti-virus protection also depends on if you have youngsters who will be accessing the internet, or adults only. 

Kids have a tendency to be too trusting when it comes to scams, while Adults may be more skeptical – Adults might be more able to distinguish between the scams and honest advertising.  This is not always black and white.  I know it is often quite difficult to know who to trust, what is a scam or a fake offer, or bad website that you might be directed to.

If you find you’re receiving “pop-ups” concerning your security, or a warning that you have viruses, you most likely have some spyware or viruses.  It is important to scan you computer. 

Call us (508-370-8080) if you have any questions.  We can remotely log into your computer and diagnose the issues going on.

MS Office 2007 & Office 2003 – Compatibility

May 24th, 2009

Many people use MS Office, which is a suite of products (such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint).  In MS Office, the word processing program is MS Word.  The newest version, Word 2007, saves documents with the extension .docx and these documents (if saved this way) are only able to be read by other computer users who also have the 2007 version.

A study shows that 50% users have Office 2007, while 50% have Office 2003.  When a 2007 user sends a word, excel, or powerpoint document to someone who has Office 2003, the default formats in Office 2007 cannot be read from Office 2003.  To resolve this problem, the Office 2007 user needs to change the default to a format that Lower versions of Office can read.

for MS Word 2007 USERS:

1.      Open Microsoft Word 2007

2.     Click the “Office Button” (top left of your screen), then on the bottom of the list click “Word Options

3.      The “Word Options” window will open.  Now click on “Save” in the left panel

4.    Change the top option (in the right panel) “save files in this format“ from “Word Document (*.docx)” to “Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)”

5.    Click “OK” and you’re all done!

for MS Word 2003 USERS:

If you have Office 2003, then you should click on this link and download the following “compatibility pack”

Click Here

This will allow Users with Word 2003 to be able to read and save documents sent to them that were originally created by someone using Word 2007.

Following the above steps will give you the ability to save all your documents as *.doc files, and will save a lot of compatibility headaches!

If you have Word 2007 and still want to save a document in the new *.docx format, just select the new format when saving individual documents.

Purchasing Memory for Your Computer

April 24th, 2009

Q:  How much memory should I purchase?  What would you recommend?

A:  The answer varies from customer to customer depending on what they use the computer for. 

To order memory, I always go to this website  CLICK HERE

I usually do that when I am on the computer that needs the memory because the Crucial website will scan the computer and tell you what kind of memory it needs.

Security Suites

April 17th, 2009

Q:  Should I buy an Internet Security Suite?

A:  Do not use an Internet security suite unless you have at least 2 GB of memory.  Security suites often have a firewall, spyware scanner, antivirus, and email spam filter all built into the software.