So like a moron, I decided to download a free coupon toolbar. I’ve seen them before. Go to a fill-out-offers-for-cash type website. You’ll notice they promote these a lot. I’ll omit the name of the website I downloaded through because I still like them. I’ll never download anything from them again but they’ve been good on everything else in the past.
The specific item I downloaded was a toolbar for Select Rebates. This toolbar promises to help you find coupons, rebates, and other deals online. There are probably hundreds of names for the same device. They all prance around on fishy websites and promise free things. The download will give you shopping toolbar and it’ll take you to a nifty website. The problem is that along with the toolbar is a download of Antivirus Live.
About a half hour after the Select Rebates download, Antivirus Live popped up. It proceeded to tell me I had 158 viruses. Adware, spyware, malware, etc, etc. It used very ill conceived scare tactics to try to get me to purchase activation for the program. The free version only evaluates. It will not delete anything. However, I know something about the Internet. There are several virus programs out there that will remove viruses for free. I hadn’t downloaded any of these free programs because I was on a work computer. All the more stupid of me to be downloading fishy programs.
I tried to surf the web only to find that any page I pulled up was “infected”. It took me a moment to realize that Antivirus Live is the virus. I had suspected this already. The closing matter was when the computer started telling me Google was “dangerous, possibly infected website”.
Hilariously enough it was the program that tipped off my suspicions in the first place. I read through some of the viruses it was “finding”. One the list was described as “fake virus software that finds non-existent viruses”. Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. Thankfully, I have access to the web on another computer. A quick search of the name brings up Antivirus Live as a very common virus. I learned a new term as well. The class of virus is called “Ransomware”. It ransoms the computer until you buy the product it’s selling.
The virus is particularly annoying because it also prevents you from accessing the task manager or downloading anything. It tells you all .exe files are infected. Thankfully getting around this is easy. Restart your computer and enter safe mode with networking. You can do this by pressing F8 upon start up. Something else I hadn’t known before this experience.
In safe mode you can download whatever you need. Thus, I downloaded some freeware ant- virus programs. I used malwarebytes Anti-Malware and SuperAntiSpyware. These were both free and recommended by a person on Yahoo Answers. I made sure to do a web search on the names first. Had I done this with the toolbar I might have never gotten into the mess in the first place. I was too busy chasing 25 cents on my offer-fill-out website.
You might be wondering how I know that Antivirus Live came from the shopping toolbar. Number one, it reared its ugly head only a half hour after the download. Number two, the shopping toolbar disappeared after the virus sweep.
Beware of downloads that promise free anything. I always figured they’d do something they weren’t advertising. The source let on to this fact. I was expecting some unauthorized cookies or even an e-mail phisher. I have precautions that handle both of these. I wasn’t expecting my computer to be held at gunpoint. The main thing is to be aware of what you are doing, use logic, and don’t panic. Most things can be reversed.