Here's how to banish spyware, stay safe on unsecured public networks, and what to do if you seem to be spamming yourself.

Viruses, spyware and worms. We all know the dangers inherent in accessing the internet and we all take precautions. Yet our PCs still occasionally get infected, because we can't know everything.

Some issues crop up time and time again. They shouldn't be particularly difficult to avoid, but they're as stubborn as old boots to get shot of once you've been caught out.

Over the next three pages, we'll look at how to rid your PC of nefarious, spyware-infected programs, explain why you sometimes receive strange email from your own address and teach you how to stay safe on unsecured public wireless networks.

We also present a cautionary tale about visiting websites that aren't what they seem.

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  1. Simple cures for 3 regular web headaches
  2. Getting rid of stubborn spyware
  3. Stop spamming yourself, and unsecured networks

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Here's how to banish spyware, stay safe on unsecured public networks, and what to do if you seem to be spamming yourself.

Getting rid of stubborn spyware

If you want to get rid of a rogue program or one that simply isn't worth keeping, your starting point is its own uninstaller. You may have to click through a few confirm dialog boxes to convince it you really don't want it, but it should then uninstall without issue.

Add/Remove Programs on the Start, Control Panel menu is your next option. In both cases, a restart may be required for changes to take effect. If it's a piece of malware, however, it may make an unwelcome return when you reboot.

The uninstaller that comes with a malicious program isn't likely to do much good on its own, but it's worth running it with Revo Uninstaller. This runs an application's own uninstall function, then scans the hard drive and Registry for leftovers. It may not work with every piece of malware, but it's certainly worth a try.

If that doesn't work, try Cedrick Collomb's free Unlocker. Once installed, Unlocker comes up automatically when Windows refuses to delete, move or rename a file or folder, or you can launch it from the file or folder's context menu. It shows you what processes are hanging on
to the culprit and lets you kill them.

Windows System Restore is another option. In Windows XP, select Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore. Choose 'Restore my computer to an earlier time', Next. Select the earliest Restore Point available and follow the prompts.

In Vista, click Start, type 'rstrui', and press Enter; select ‘Choose a different restore point', click Next, and tick the ‘Show restore points older than 5 days' option. Click Next, choose the earliest Restore Point and follow the onscreen prompts.

If that doesn't work either, try running System Restore in Safe Mode. Reboot your PC and press F8 just before Windows loads. Now select Safe Mode with Command Prompt and pick your OS. At the command prompt, type ‘C:\windows\system32\restore\rstrui' (or just ‘rstrui' in Vista), press Enter and try running System Restore from there.

Yet another option is to use the web. Since you've got a name for the program you can't remove, you might be able to find removal instructions by entering details into a search engine. Add the word remove to your search string, and avoid any link from the company that makes the program or any site that seems to have a positive opinion of it.

Still can't get rid of the unwelcome guest? Try HijackThis, a free utility from TrendMicro. It creates a very technical report on your system's suspicious Windows behaviour. You probably won't be able to make head nor tail of it, but there are plenty of online forums where friendly people can help you decipher HijackThis reports and recommend a course of action. Trend Micro provides links to many of these forums.

Readers who've come a cropper after being tricked into installing VirusHeat only to find it was the very threat they were worried about can restore their peace of mind using this VirusHeat removal tool.

If nothing else works, reformatting your hard drive is the last desperate measure to take. But back up your data first.

NEXT PAGE: stop spamming yourself, and unsecured networks > >

  1. Simple cures for 3 regular web headaches
  2. Getting rid of stubborn spyware
  3. Stop spamming yourself, and unsecured networks

Visit Security Advisor for the latest internet threat news, FREE net threat email newsletters, and internet security product reviews

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest news and reviews about the internet and internet tools.

Here's how to banish spyware, stay safe on unsecured public networks, and what to do if you seem to be spamming yourself.

Why am I spamming myself?

Accidentally spamming someone is a sure sign of flabby security settings. Spamming yourself seems dimmer still. Of course, you're almost certainly doing no such thing. Rather, someone you know has an infected PC and the malware is using contacts listed in their address book to disguise its origin. To that end, it spoofs (forges) the Sender address as well as spamming everyone within reach.

If you get spam from yourself, it could mean someone with your email address has an infected computer – but there's not much you can do about it. If only a few people have your email address, you could try letting them know about the problem. An email scanner will help combat the deluge of spam.

How safe is an unsecured network?

Sometimes, you need to get online and your only option is to use a public hotspot or internet cafe. It's far from ideal to use a non-secure network, but sometimes, needs must.

You should never send a credit-card number this way, nor should you disclose any personal information. If you're sending information that's the least bit sensitive, find out whether you're actually connecting to the network you think or to an 'evil twin' network.

In a public location such as a library, the network you think you're logging on to may actually be someone else's computer acting like a server in order to gain access to your PC. This is how 'information slurping' works.

When you log on to a wireless network, Windows will show you the Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs) of all the networks within range. Make sure you're getting on to the right one. Check with a member of staff.

Turn off file and printer sharing. In XP, select Start and right-click My Network Places. In the Network Connections window, right-click the network and select Properties. Click on the General tab, deselect Client for Microsoft Networks and File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks, then click ok.

Vista disables file and printer sharing automatically if it recognises a network is unsecured. To be sure it's aware a network is unsecured, click Start, Network, Network and Sharing Center. Vista will almost certainly list the setup as a Public network. If not, click the Customize button. Select Public, click Next, then Close the window.

Even with these safety measures enabled, make absolutely certain you're sending out non-critical information only. To be sure files can't be read, use a portable firewall such as the Pico Yoggie Personal and/or encrypt emails using TrueCrypt.

  1. Simple cures for 3 regular web headaches
  2. Getting rid of stubborn spyware
  3. Stop spamming yourself, and unsecured networks

Visit Security Advisor for the latest internet threat news, FREE net threat email newsletters, and internet security product reviews

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest news and reviews about the internet and internet tools.