Have you seen the Police Message virus already? Many have, in fact we sent a warning out about in October last year. Back then we were getting a great deal of computers that had been infected with the Police Message virus, at the height of the problem we were cleaning off 10 of these infections a week. Fortunately it was quite straight forward to get rid of, it still meant a trip to us but there was no need for us to reinstall Windows.
Though In the last 4 weeks the Police Message virus would have seem to have changed in severity. We are starting to have the machines pile up again, suggesting that the Police Message virus is going through a bit of a revival. However this time round the fix isn’t quite as straightforward. Those with Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 seem to be less effected by the virus as the fix is still quite simple; however those with XP have would seem to have a real problem. All of the XP systems we have looked at so far have required us to reinstall the operating system, which is a rather long winded (read: expensive!) process.
The difficulty in defending against this type of virus is that they normally side step your anti-virus programmes. They do this by leveraging loop holes that exist in out of date programmes on your computer. To best protect yourself you need to make sure that the following programmes are up to date;
- Windows. Make sure you run Windows update regularly. Windows Vista, 7 and 8 are pretty forceful with updates; Windows XP is a little more care free about the process, so make sure that you run it Windows Updates (which you can find in the start menu) every week
- Your anti-virus programme. Whilst this should be updating itself regularly it is worth checking it, there is nothing worse than assuming you are covered. A lot of viruses will play havoc with anti-virus programmes, so if you have a problem with your anti-virus your computer may be starting to get sick (see this link to see if you suspect the worse)
- Adobe Flash. Flash Player drives a lot of site animation and video content on the internet. Flash Player has also been guilty of some horrible crimes against computers when it comes to letting viruses in. You will find the latest version on the Adobe website. Two versions exist, one for Internet Explorer and one for all other browsers (e.g. Chrome and Firefox) make sure you download both versions if you need them
- Java. Much like Flash Player Java runs a lot of the internet. Also, like Flash Player, Java is another common route used to attack computers. The latest version can be found on the Java website. The link I’ve given you will lead you to information about the 64 bit version, if you are unsure about which version you need then have a look at their guide
- Adobe PDF. Even PDFs can contain viruses (there really is no sanctuary!). Make sure you check you have the latest version of Adobe PDF Reader on your computer, which can be found here
- Your browser. The big three are Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. Make sure all of the browsers on your system (which will at least be Internet Explorer) are up to date. Drive by browser attacks are a very common means of infecting computers (of which the Police Message infection is a type of)
Do all those on a weekly basis and you should keep yourself (and your computer) safe! Or you could sign up to our ByteSafe Home service which will take care of all of those points for you.
Whilst this type of virus affects all Windows systems equally, it does not have the same effect. For owners of Vista onwards this virus is really an annoyance, it’s a pretty straightforward problem for someone with some technical knowledge to undo; for XP it is potentially catastrophic. Yet another good reason to move away from XP (for another good reason see this blog). The IT world has changed massively since 2002, and the time is now for a new operating system that can cope with threats like this.