I didn't like antivirus software. Even Microsoft's advice included in the notorious WinXP Service Pack 2 didn't convince me. "Just be careful with drive-by downloads and email attachments, and you'll be fine", i told myself. Until today.
Ginat's place was empty this weekend, so Hadar and me spent it there. Hadar studied to her Physics exams and i fixed Ginat's PC, which was infested with spyware. Internet Explorer hardly worked with all the popups. I thought that it would be simple. AdAware detected a little something called CoolWebSearch. And it even removed it. But then it came back, under a different name. I tried to fight, but it mutated and fought back -- changed the names of it's dll's to random four-letter combination, forced Notepad and AdAware to close, etc. After each cleanup it somehow reinstalled itself. Some websites said that even installing the service pack wouldn't help -- only restoring the registry (yeah, right) or complete Windows reinstall.
And then i came upon the alternative anti-spyware "tool" -- HiJackThis. It collects a generous log of suspicious, but not necessarily malicious registry keys. That log can be posted to security forums, such as AumHa (but there are also others), where volunteers will check it and suggest further actions. To make a long a story short -- i did it, got a reply and it worked perfectly.
This cleanup took me almost the whole day. I did it out of sheer curiosity and will to help Ginat, and i swear i wasn't fishing for compliments. I am amazed that these volunteers dedicate their time and patiently help strangers to clean the mess on their computer for free. It's good to know that there are still some good guys left.
On the other hand, it taught me a sad lesson -- there are bad guys, too. And sometimes they are really nasty, they just won't let go, they'll do their best to bog down innocent people's PC's. And if a stupid adware program can be so nasty, then what is there to say about truly destructive viruses? Maybe i'll succumb and install one myself. Maybe i'll even pay for it (goodness!)
In the meantime, i installed Firefox and Thunderbird. Service Pack good, alternative browser better.