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Beware the season of the virus

All businesses experience high and low times, from year to year, month to month, even day to day. At our computer service store, we try to figure out why certain times are busier than others. Mondays are busy, understandable after people discover issues over the weekend that need to be resolved. Thunderstorms knock out power supplies and network cards. Snowbirds return and fill our shelves with work. Christmas passes, and the dads who didn’t get what they asked for come in to buy computers.

Over the holidays, relatives from the cold white north may have been surfing on computers that usually manage just fine without virus protection. Kids bored with conversation ask to use the computer. Your brother-in-law wants to check his stocks. A cousin needs to get an e-mail about her stepson’s fiance’s new baby. Suddenly there’s a problem with the computer. That may explain why many customers have been seeking remedies for viruses around the new year.

In the past two years, fake anti-virus malware has become very prolific. This type of virus appears on your desktop and looks very similar to common anti-virus software. The familiar look deceives many users to click and inadvertently allow the virus to bypass active security. It uses familiar logos and icons, and will often begin its destruction when the user attempts to close the window.

For advanced users and computer professionals, there are tools available for download that can remove these viruses. Malwarebytes is a free anti-malware program that has proven to be effective in removing fake anti-viruses.

In many cases, we have been able to avoid an operating system reload by using Malwarebytes. An operating system reload is a more complete fix, but it also wipes out everything a user has added or saved on the system. Nonetheless, if a reload is needed files can be preserved, and available programs may be reinstalled after the reload.

Every computer needs to be protected from viruses and spyware through good anti-virus/anti-spyware software.

Updates and scans must be completed on a regular basis. Realize that even the best software can’t always protect your computer unless you use safe Internet practices. Never to click on a link you are not sure of and do not open e-mail from unknown sources. Make this a safe and happy new year with your computer.

Patty Harshbarger, co-owner of Computer Renaissance in Bradenton, can be reached at patty@cr-bradenton.com.

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