As is the case with most developers we serve the dual purpose of tech support and help desk for our extended family, for me that has extended to most of the people in my Church. I burned the lion share of today disinfecting a laptop that would barely boot and that I simply refused to give access to the Internet.

The owner of the laptop is notorious for infecting machines but I think on this occasion all records were broken. I was able, this time round, to identify the source ... Morpheus!! (notice I have not even put a link to this site as it should be considered the gateway to the lower levels spyware). Morpheus is a file MP3 sharing software popular with people who know no better. It is easy to install but is almost impossible to get rid of and it attracts and\or purposefully spreads several variations of viruses and Trojan horses. During the trouble shooting stage I noticed that I was unable to run CMD.exe or TaskManager, it was pretty bad in there!

After a lot of research and about 6 hours, I was able to not only rid the machine of the Trojans (all 1500+ of them), but I was also able to get the machine up to a decent level of security.

To all friends and family out there who happen to read this blog I am going to provide the following links that will allow all of you to empower yourself with a reasonable level of security to any PC for FREE ... so here goes.

AVG Free Edition - AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition is a free anti-virus protection tool developed by GRISOFT for home use.
Spybot - Detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications.
Adaware - Popular anti-spyware product for computer users around the world, with nearly one million downloads every week.
ZoneAlarm - Automatically makes your computer invisible to anyone on the Internet, Systematically identifies hackers and blocks access attempts.

I have been using some combination of the above software for the past 4 years and I have had zero infections during that time. Coupled with just avoiding crapware like Morpheus and not going to suspect website's ... and Gmail's spam filter is the best I have ever seen. It catches more than 99.9% of all spam without blocking friendly email, not sure how! My Hotmail account treats everything as suspect until I send or respond to the email address.

Safe Surfing!!

"Silence is a source of great strength."- Lao Tzu