At Panda Security we are relentless in our efforts to advise users about the best way of protecting themselves from the continuous threat of malware. On this occasion, I would like to offer a new recommendation, which stems from an unfortunate experience I had recently.
A few weeks ago… I was hit by a virus.
Yeah, I know, I should hang my head in shame; I work as a developer for a major anti-malware company and I’m well aware of the risks. Anyway, I was messing about on my home computer, doing some less-than-sensible things and the inevitable happened.
At first I didn’t notice anything strange, but then some odd things start to happen; for example some games, like Steam or my treasured Battlefield, stopped working, the programs displayed error messages whenever I tried to run them, and my Internet connection went really slowly. Every user knows their own computer, and knows when something is not right, and in this case something was clearly not right.
Then finally the computer just wouldn’t start up, and displayed the BSOD (blue screen) in a critical controller for the Operating System; so critical in fact, that the computer wouldn’t even start in safe mode.
Ideally, at this point I would have had to have a safe boot disk with a commandline antivirus, like our Panda SafeCD, but I didn’t (cobblers’ children and all that…..). Then I remembered that I had two Operating Systems installed in dual-boot configuration, Windows XP and Windows 7:
So I could start up the other operating system, which wasn’t infected, launch our antivirus, detect the malware and eliminate it without needing a safe boot disk. So in this way, my dual-boot configuration was an unexpected and valuable ally against the malware that had infected my PC.
In short, this experience has taught me some valuable lessons:
Make sure you always have a way of starting your computer in the event that the operating system fails, whether this is via CD, DVD, USB drive, or as in my case, an alternative operating system installed on another partition.
Always make sure you have a set of tools available for analyzing and eliminating malware in a low resource environment (read commandline). Our free antivirus for command line is a good example. You’ll also find other free scanners and tools at http://free.pandasecurity.com/
Don’t take foolish risks with your system.
And at least if you are going to, don’t use the administrator account.