The Nasty & Profitable World of Viruses & AntiVirus Software
After going through what seems to have been several years without getting hit with a serious virus, this weekend I got nailed with a killer. It was one of those extremely annoying trojan viruses that digs it’s way into your system and causing some serious damage along the way. The fun worst part about this virus was how it would instantly activate itself upon windows starting up, then to make matters worse, it would instantly close out any applications you tried to open and wiped out internet access all together.Â The main goal of the virus was to not only infect your computer, but also to make money in the process.
This virus in particular is referred to as a “Security Alert Virus”. If you’ve ever had one of these viruses you already know what I’m talking about. If not, just think about any anti virus software like Norton or McAfee, and how the program gives you an alert when it finds an infected file on your computer. There are many different versions of this virus, but their concept is all the same, which is to look like an active anti virus solution currently on your system. To the advanced PC user and marketer, this may be obvious that it’s not your typical virus alert software… however it is quite convincing to the average PC user. You can see a preview of this concept the right.
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No matter what application you try to open, the virus will close it out and say there is an infected file. You are then asked if you would like to delete the file using your anti virus software. If you click “YES”, you are then sent to their anti virus software web site, where you could then buy the software… which I’m sure wouldn’t work anyway. The amazing part here is how the virus pretty much wipes out all of your internet usage, except to access their site and buy the software. As sleazy and scummy as it is, it’s also pretty amazing… and I’m sure very effective!
On the flip side, there are tons of web sites cashing in on anti virus software without being bastards and having to infect computers with a virus to make their living. Web sites dedicated to providing information on how to remove these viruses are also cashing in. Many of these I had the pleasure of visiting while I was in the process of learning how to remove this particular virus for instance. Each site gives a run through of how to get your hands dirty to manually remove the virus, or how you can simply download their anti virus free trial software (which then leads to a sale). No one wants to start messing around with .dll and .exe files, as you can easily mess things up… so it’s not a hard sell for most of these sites since people visiting their sites are already infected and looking for a quick solution.
An excellent example of these sites can be seen at SpywareRemove.com. Nearly all of these sites share the same information on how the individual virus is spread through out the computer, and which individual files you will need to remove. Most of these sites are good information sources and can actually help in the virus removal process, but they all also seem to push their own (or affiliate related) anti virus software solutions.
So there you have two examples of how to make a killing in the anti virus world. One of them is hardcore nasty… not only infecting and destroying computers, possibly planting keystroke loggers in the process (stealing information), but also making money along the way by scaring users into buying their crap anti virus software. The other method, which many of us can relate to in the affiliate world, is to become prominent information and resources sites, while being an affiliate partner with hopefully a legitimate anti virus software (or selling your own).
In short, I was finally able to remove my infected virus by continually trying to stop operations as they started. A long process of restarting the computer, quickly bringing up task manager before applications started to run, once again gaining internet access and updating my virus removal software (though a lot more complicated then it sounds)… and finally removing the virus. Not only did everything turn out fine… but I also got the inspiration to write this post about the nasty and profitable world of viruses and anti virus software.
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