Even the best anti-virus / anti-malware strategy isn’t perfect

Proof (again) that no anti-virus program is perfect.

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I had read and heard plenty of good things about Trend Micro’s latest anti-virus program, which they call Titanium, so when a new customer presented me with a sick laptop computer with it installed, I wasn’t expecting to find it infected with viruses. This Windows Vista laptop, which also had Spy Sweeper installed, was barely usable: applications would crawl, some windows, such as Network Connections, would remain empty, and it would often just freeze until it was restarted. It was one sick puppy.

I tried system recovery, but found no restore points. I tried to look at Windows Update, but it wouldn’t connect to the Microsoft update site. I tried to examine the ip configuration, but the ipconfig command wouldn’t execute. My only recourse was to remove the hard drive, and attach it to a known clean (Windows XP Pro) computer. I used the host computer’s Microsoft Security Essentials to scan the laptop’s disk and found the usual assortment of tracking cookies . . . as well as CouponBar. Security Essentials removed it from the laptop’s disk (but it remained in the laptop’s registry). Then I scanned the disk with some anti-spyware/anti-malware programs, and they found a few trojan horses. Again, I removed them from the laptop’s disk (but didn’t touch the laptop’s registry).

Moral: There is no perfect anti-virus, anti-malware, or anti-spyware program!

I replaced the now disinfected hard drive in the laptop, rebooted, and was finally able to use it. Although the laptop user had spent hard cash (at Best Buy, I think) for his Trend Micro Titanium and Spy Sweeper, I reasoned that they had failed to protect him, and that Microsoft Security Essentials together with occasional scans by SuperAntiSpyware or MalwareBytes Antimalware would probably have done a better job of protecting him. I replaced Trend Micro Titanium with Microsoft Security Essentials and removed Spy Sweeper. I also installed the free version of SuperAntiVirus for occasional scans. I cleaned up the registry, removing lost pointers to the now missing bad files. A clean-up with Ccleaner finished that, followed with Windows updates. When finished, the laptop, even with Windows Vista, felt reasonably fast and the user was very pleased.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695