Friday, July 19, 2013

Again, Asquared finds spyware, apparently causing W7 to freeze, missed by all other antivirus vendors

While away on a road trip recently (yup, relinquishing the right to walk-off wins), I left my Dell XPS computer (originally Windows Vista, converted to Windows 7 at the beginning of 2011) with the Geek Squad to look at a freeze-up problem that could occur once per boot cycle.  On certain sites, mostly those with heavy advertising, the PC would freeze, and unlock itself when the track pad was tapped repeatedly, where it would finally beep repeatedly and unlock, usually executing one app (often Windows Media Player) repeatedly and opening many windows that needed to be closed.

The Geek Squad tested the computer with almost all major vendors (Webroot, Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton, and Trend Micro) and found no viruses.  But, as repeated in June 15 of 2012, Asquared (Emisoft) found traces of spyware that could hang a processor.  The infection was difficult to remove and took several cycles of work.  The Geek Squad report did not identify the viruses other than as adware. 
Geek Squad removed the desk top gadgets (apparently -- they didn't come up).

I had established alternate user id's, which I now see are there after all (I first thought they had been removed.)  I had found that sometimes at startup the system could hang on bringing up “owner” if there was not a least one other user.  This seems related to spyware, according to Geek Squad. 
Before the beginning of 2012, I had an older form of Webroot Spysweeper whose scans would quarantine “spy cookies” (it always had considered “Doubleclick” a spy cookie), and perhaps about ten viruses, every one of which was related to adware when looked up on the Sophos virus dictionary. 

Update: 11:30 Friday evening, the same "freeze" happened once going to a CNN story (with lots of ads on the page).  It unlocked pretty quickly this time. See my "Information Technology Job Market" post today for details.

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