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Can viruses really steal ID information?

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    Can viruses really steal ID information?

    A friend told me that some viruses and trojans that you get, can actually find confidential personal ID information on you computer like SSN or credit card info, and send it to scammer who then can rip you off?

    Is this true?

    What can be done about it?

    I have and anti-virus program called Cyberdefender on my computer, is that enough protection?

    #2
    Yes, it is true. I'm not familiar with Cyberdefender, but having good antivirus and antispyware software is a start. Also you should have a personal firewall set up on your computer which prevents unauthorized activity in and out of your computer.

    Also avoid risky behavior like downloading files from sites you don't know or sharing files on peer-to-peer networks.

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      #3
      To answer your question, yes they can.

      If you are serious about wanting to protect your personal information and files, you should invest in quality anti-virus software with proven results. Cyberdefender gets bad reviews from both PC Magazine and users. AVG is a professional anti-virus suite that is very reasonable. I spend approx. $48 per year for three computers. Some people prefer Mcafee or Norton, but I have found that they have too many software compatibility issues.

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        #4
        Keep in mind Banks and Government offices are the worst offenders, putting citizens at risk with confidental information. Credit card theft is rampant in restaurants and filling stations where they can copy your card and have it replicated. You are at risk whenever you use your ATM card as scammers install pinpoint cameras that photograph your PIN number and card.

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          #5
          Also be aware that your computer(s) can be infected with a "keylogger." Keyloggers record keystrokes and essentially anything you type in can be used.

          The software that is used to prevent virus/worms/trojans, etc. can be used to isolate and identify Keyloggers as well.

          Essentially, best option is to do all accounting (on line banking) on a computer that you don't browse the Internet on and disconnect the Ethernet cable or shut off the power to the computer when not in use.

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            #6
            There are a lot of different kinds of infections out there and they kind of blur into a cloud-like amorphous virus/keylogger/trojan/dialer. What I use to keep myself under the radar of the cloud:
            AVG - This program is free for basic defense. I like it because it will block out-going programs (unless you okay it), preventing in infected machine from calling out; also, it sets all your ports to 'no response' so when programs search for open ports, it gets no response rather than setting them to 'blocked' which tells the program there is a port there.
            Spybot - Search and destroy - this program searches for known badguy programs and removes them from your system. Should be run at least weekly and updated before the run.
            Ad-Aware - I no longer recommend because they require that you 'do something' in order to get it for free.
            Spyware Blaster - I use this because it stops site from installing active-x malware, tracking cookies and such. Works in conjunction with Spybot S&D.
            I YQ YQ R

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              #7
              I don't mean to spread panic and fear or anything but....

              Know that once you are infected, contemporary malwares are capable of opening a "back door" that can't be shut by your firewall software. Once open, it can update itself and download a dozen more malwares into your computer.

              Some will go so far as to interfere or even shutdown certain functions in commercial anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Modern malware is almost impressive from a technical standpoint nowadays....

              In other words, today's malwares are like roaches. Once you are infected, and even if you find and zap that one, chances are good that a dozen more are still hiding in your computer.

              In fact, some can also become dormant until it is being called upon by the criminal hacker, so you could be compromised for months and not even realize it.

              I know many techies recommend several commercial products that should keep your computer safe. However, I have to respectfully disagree. I've seen it with my own eyes: Friends' computers that have uses all of these popular anti-malware software and yet the junk and slowdowns keep coming back.

              Personally, I prefer the nuclear option. Reinstall Windows if that's what you are dead set on using. Not all techies agree with me, saying this may be too drastic, but it's the only way to be sure.

              If you're not above being drastic and proactive, get yourself off Windows, because it's simply too big of a target to ensure safety.... Although I use Linux, Mac's OS X is a pretty good choice for mainstream users. If you're truly paranoid, nothing beats a slow but reliable Live CD. (I have one handy, but I haven't gone that far yet.)
              Last edited by Broken Arrow; 11-30-2008, 07:56 PM.

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                #8
                Originally posted by Broken Arrow View Post

                In other words, today's malwares are like roaches. Once you are infected, and even if you find and zap that one, chances are good that a dozen more are still hiding in your computer.

                In fact, some can also become dormant until it is being called upon by the criminal hacker, so you could be compromised for months and not even realize it.

                I know many techies recommend several commercial products that should keep your computer safe. However, I have to respectfully disagree. I've seen it with my own eyes: Friends' computers that have uses all of these popular anti-malware software and yet the junk and slowdowns keep coming back.

                Personally, I prefer the nuclear option. Reinstall Windows if that's what you are dead set on using. Not all techies agree with me, saying this may be too drastic, but it's the only way to be sure.

                If you're not above being drastic and proactive, get yourself off Windows, because it's simply too big of a target to ensure safety.... Although I use Linux, Mac's OS X is a pretty good choice for mainstream users. If you're truly paranoid, nothing beats a slow but reliable Live CD. (I have one handy, but I haven't gone that far yet.)

                Unfortunately Broken Arrow is completely correct. In fact, if you look at the wiki difinition of Keylogger and in the "prevention" section, they write that for some keyloggers there's no current prevention. That's saying a lot.

                Viruses and trojans ultimately get corrected through the AV software out there, but until it's corrected your computers are at risk of hacking and identity theft.

                I've known people to get keylogged and online games information stolen via keyloggers. Many recommend formatting several times and not the "quick" format that only destroys the FAT (File allocation table) and not the problem itself. Once compromised it's a huge problem.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Seeker View Post
                  Viruses and trojans ultimately get corrected through the AV software out there, but until it's corrected your computers are at risk of hacking and identity theft.
                  Hopefully....

                  Some malware are designed to be polymorphic. That is, their signature (that AV software uses to detect said malware) changes with each infection (iteration).

                  I think some AVs have gotten smarter about being able to detect certain mutation patterns, but ultimately, to be comprehensive in its protection would require a rather exhaustive list that will slow down an already slow process.

                  So, believe it or not, AV vendors have to be selective about what they put into their database, which typically includes only the most common or popular signatures, but definitely not all of them! It's one of the industry's necessary evils or dirty little secrets, depending on how you look at it.

                  Even when commercial AV software finds an efficient way to detect an entire algorithm, the malware can simply be updated to a different algorithm and the whole cat and mouse game starts all over again....

                  I know I've got a very pessimistic view on this, so let me also balance out all this doom and gloom by saying that if people were to be armed with a little bit of knowledge about this and practice good computer hygiene, it can still go a long way towards keeping your computer safe....

                  Here's a nice primer as a starting point.
                  Last edited by Broken Arrow; 11-30-2008, 09:19 PM.

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                    #10
                    Just be careful of what you put onto your computer. Don't go to sites that you think might be a risk, and never run any execution files that you aren't sure about. A lot of times people package these viruses with torrent downloads so be weary of anything that you don't buy from a store.

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                      #11
                      Anti-Virus Software

                      Wow, I had no idea. Thanks for the info - there's a lot to learn right there!! With Cyberdefender, I have this MyIdentityDefender toolbar on my browser, and it tells me when I hit a really risky site. Only once did I visit a SN site (for Movies) and it told me it was a dangerous site so I got off it quick. MyIdentityDefender toolbar I think is just another tool to help you stay secure/safe.

                      I know my firewall is set pretty high because sometimes I can't even send out stuff I want to from my exchange account.

                      I've bookmarked this page so I can come back to it again if I ever have any problems, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed and being very careful. Thanks!

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                        #12
                        I got the free Cyberdefender anti-virus program first off their website which found a lot of stuff on my system and got rid of the spyware and Trojans. I guess I should have gotten the paid version, but since the free scanner didnít find any viruses I didnít buy the upgrade then. In the past, some of the software that I installed on my system I couldnít get completely un-installed. As a test I un-installed Cyberdefender, and found that it was completely removed, no lingering pops or other stuff.


                        I re-installed Cyberdefender and ran it once a month or any time I got strange pop ups, just check so viruses, spyware or other bad stuff. About 2 weeks ago, a virus came along and Cyberdefender caught it, and so I bought the upgrade to get rid of the virus. I later ran Cyberdefender after the upgrade and it could not detect the virus. Since then, no problems. This is my experience with Cyberdefender - really good software and the 24/7 computer help is great.

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                          #13
                          I have battled several viruses this year and used a few free anti-virus, trojan and spyware programs. Kinda got tired of it all. I talked to my friend who work with computers all the time about it, and he said he would do a test.

                          So he got several free anti-virus programs and installed them one at a time on a fresh system and infected them, then he recorded how many and which ones the anti-virus program recorded after a scan.

                          He told me that he had to wipe the systems and clone the drive from a clean one for each test, and that in the end most of them found a lot of the same spyware, viruses and trojans.

                          He said that the differences between the anti-virus programs were that outside of the common stuff they all found, each program had some viruses they didn’t find, and other found those but not other ones. He made a graph, but I don’t have a scanner so I can’t put it up here.

                          We looked at all the test and he felt that Cyberdefender was the best of the bunch because it found all the common viruses, and the largest number of non-common viruses.

                          Now, most of the free anti-virus programs he tried he said were either just scanners that would only remove the problems after you buy, or were 30 day or other limited version, but they all gave a good indication how the paid versions would work.

                          I bought and installed Cyberdefender for my computer (he got it for his companies systems also) since it seems to offer the best protection, for the best price with features others didn’t offer as part of the package

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                            #14
                            Thanks calksmoit for that synopsis! That pretty much jives with what I've experienced as well. I wish I can get more details from your friend and the tests he conducted!

                            I think the one thing that is worth emphasizing is that your tech friend cloned the system back after each test in order to wipe the slate clean, back to its original virus-free state.

                            Let me say this again: He used cloning to wipe the system clean, back to its original, virus-free state!

                            It's noteworthy because that's what I have recommended in the past to deal with viruses... and sometimes got criticized as being too extreme. But it's really not that difficult. If you get infected, just wipe your drive back to its original state. If it happens again, wipe it again. That way you won't have to rely so heavily on anti-malware programs that are less-than-perfect.

                            Of course, to use this as an option, you must prepare in advance with a trusted clone image of your hard drive... and have some patience as the process may take a while, as well as a separate back-up process for all your personal data (which would get wiped), but then, I've always felt that personal data needs to be placed in a separate drive or partition anyway....

                            To be fair, newer, more sophisticated back-up software may also use drive images (but saving only modified chunks) that may work just as well and is much quicker, but I don't have any personal experience with that.
                            Last edited by Broken Arrow; 03-12-2009, 01:52 PM.

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                              #15
                              Yes they can.

                              However it's not as prevalent as everyone makes it out to be. Honestly, I really wouldn't worry about it - at all...

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