With the now infamous Spectre and Meltdown processor flaws affecting every intel based computer for the last ten years, Intel pushed out a fast fix to plug the holes. Now they're saying not to use it. It seems that some computers will get stuck in a reboot loop. So the cure is worse than the disease. To date, there's been no evidence that the Spectre and Meltdown flaws have been exploited, so Leo is wondering if the right advice is to do nothing at all. At least until a new fix has been released, or that malware shows up that will take advantage of it.
Intel has announced that the fix for the Spectre exploit can actually cause blue screens of death (BSOD) and crash your system unless you make sure everything is updated first — especially third-party antivirus. Leo says this is why it makes more sense to use Windows Defender and not use a third party app. They really do more harm than good.
Jeff is getting strange random key strokes appearing in his browser bar. Leo says to try a different browser. Windows comes with both Edge and Internet Explorer. If it happens in both browsers, it could be a failing keyboard. Jeff should unplug his keyboard and try a new one. If he still has the issue, then it's a Windows problem, which could be malware or a browser hijack. He could try resetting his browser first. If that solves the problem, then he's fine. If not, then it may be that he'll need to reinstall Windows from a known good source.
The latest exploit "Spectre" affects every single chip made in the last ten years. At first, security researchers thought that the exploit only affected Intel processors, but it turns out this hack also effects ARM, AMD, and any other processor that uses speculative prediction. The white hat hackers who found the flaw discovered that you can use it to access valuable data including passwords and other information. Leo says that Microsoft has already pushed out a fix, and Apple's High Sierra has patched the vulnerability with a recent fix. Apple has also patched the iPhone and iPad.
The website that Equifax set up to allow people to see if their personal data had been compromised by hackers has been found to be filled with more malware. Even worse, your salary history has also been compromised. Learn more about it at krebsonsecurity.com.
Avast/Piriform has confirmed that its popular CCleaner app has been infected with malware for the last several months and that users who have used it may have had their computer's compromised. Avast says they believe that they've fixed the problem and that no users have been harmed by the hack. But Leo says he worries about the term "we believe," and this is yet another reason why using these kinds of apps to protect yourself gives you a false sense of security.
Avast has installed something called "Grime Fighter" and it's taken over Scott's computer. What can he do? Leo says this is why he's not in favor of using third party antivirus software anymore. They give you a false sense of security and it can open up additional vulnerabilities. Leo suspects that Grime Fighter is not from Avast, but instead is pretending to be. At this point, the only thing you can really do is back up your data, format your hard drive, and reinstall Windows from a known good source. And if you must have an AVS, use Microsoft's own Windows Defender.
Myrna got locked out of Facebook when she had to reset her account due to malware. Leo says that's Facebook's latest technique for protecting the social network against malware. But like all antivirus utilities, there sometimes can be false positives that can trigger the lockdown. Myrna even ran her own scan with ESET. Leo says that's why he doesn't like antivirus software.
Ray got malware, so he backed up his computer and is wondering what his options are for resetting Windows 10. Leo says there are different levels of reset in the Windows 10 recovery menu. If he selects "Reset This PC," it will wipe out everything including his personal data and applications. If he chooses "Fresh Start," it will install a clean copy of the most recent version of Windows and uninstall any applications that didn't come with Windows, and will preserve his user data. This will probably get rid of most malware.
Myrna got a notification that she needed to run special software in order to get back on Facebook. Leo says that chances are good that Myrna downloaded a virus. She has to be careful when responding to popups. They're usually "phishing" scams designed to get her to run a scan or download software. It's a red flag that they're going to break into her system and use it. Since Myrna fell for it, the only safe thing to do is back up her data, format the hard drive, and reinstall Windows from a known, good source.