You may or may not have heard the news last week, but spam traffic dropped by 50 to 70 percent last week after two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cut off Internet access for hosting company McColo in California last week.
If you’re not familiar with these terms, a hosting company provides computer service and equipment for other companies and individuals. A hosting company typically offers storage service for email and web sites. An ISP provides companies and individuals with access to the Internet.
In last week’s case, McColo, a hosting company with locations in Delaware and California, was providing hosting services to several companies and individuals who used the McColo’s computers to distribute viruses and spyware via spam and harmful web sites. Many of the sites and messages dealt in pharmaceutical drug sales and child pornography. These companies were paying McColo for the use of their computers, and despite the illegal activity McColo ignored it.
McColo’s host computer center in San Jose, CA was connected to the Internet via several Internet Service Providers. Two of the providers took it upon themselves to deprive McColo of Internet access and shutdown the Internet connection. Within seconds the level of spam traffic worldwide dropped by 50% to 75% according to several spam watchdog services such as Spamhaus.
Consumer Risks: “XP AntiVirus Protection” and “AntiVirus 2009”
If you downloaded either of these two programs then you can probably count yourself among the victims of this incident. “XP AntiVirus Protection” and “AntiVirus 2009”were fraudulent programs distributed by several companies and individuals who were provided hosting services by McColo.
Update Jan. 2010: As a computer service professional I receive two calls for help per week to remove spyware and fraudulent anti-spyware programs. Best Buy’s Geek Squad wants $200 — $300 to remove spyware and viruses. My recommendation, purchase Spyware Doctor(at right) for only $39.95 and protect up to 3 computers. It’s the real deal. It’s downloadable, and not available in stores. Only have one PC? Then ask a friend and/or relative if they’d like to split the cost with you.
Below are sample images of the two most common fraudlent (anti-)spyware programs circulating the web. The call them “spyware protectors” some times. Sadly what these scammers are saying is they “protect the spyware” and not your computer.
Help Yourself, Help Your Computer
If you downloaded either of these fraudulent programs you should remove them immediately. To do so:
- Click Start > Conrol Panel
- Click or double-click “Add/Remove Programs” (In Vista and Windows 7 its called “Programs and Features”)
- Locate and click each of these programs on the list and click “Remove” or “Uninstall” for each one found.
After removing these programs, go purchase Spyware Doctorto remove any traces of these programs and the harmful software they may have added to your computer. I recommend Spyware Doctor from PC Tools—hands down—over any other antispyware software you’ll find.