Computer Problem - Question for Virus/Corruption Experts

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magpens

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I use a desktop PC running Windows 7. . It is slow, but I do not like later operating systems. . I use "Stopzilla Anti-Malware" for viruses, etc.
As I said, it is slow to respond, and I have the feeling that the computer is being corrupted ... possibly hijacked.
The "Stopzilla" software is fully up-to-date, as is the OS. . I have a scheduled "Full Scan" done automatically every Thursday and Sunday.
Usually, cmptr is running between the hours of 8am and 11pm. . The last 4 weeks I have been powering cmptr off, when not in use, on non-scan days.
This practice of powering off seems to greatly reduce periods of heavy hard-disk activity, which otherwise are quite noticeable.

My usage activities are a small amount of email (Yahoo.com), this pen-makers forum (Penturners.org), and viewing US News (MSNBC.com). . That's it.
My MSNBC.com activity includes recording just URLs and titles for interesting articles, as short emails (Yahoo.com) to myself (about 20 per day).

Over the past year I have noted the time taken for the twice-weekly "Full Scan" and the number of "elements scanned". . Here is the history:

Scan on Oct28, 2018 ... Time taken = 2 hours 46 mins; Number of elements scanned = 7.01 million
Scan on Feb28, 2019 ... Time taken = 3 hours 26 mins; Number of elements scanned = 8.99 million
Scan on Oct06, 2019 ... Time taken = 6 hours approx; Number of elements scanned = more than 11.31 million

As you can see, there has been a consistent large increase in the time taken for the scans and the number of "elements" scanned.

My question is ... Does this data indicate that there is some "hijacking" taking place ? . If not, what else could be going on ?

As I see things, my cmptr usage is really quite small, and the storage takes place largely on the remote sites of Yahoo.com and Penturners.org.

I would appreciate any comments and suggestions ... PLEASE ! . Bear in mind that I am basically a "computer ignoramus" with low insult tolerance !! :)
 
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1080Wayne

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Delighted to meet a fellow ignoramus ! Will do my best to keep the insult level low .

I can`t answer your question , but I also use Windows 7 (on a laptop) . I have Malwarebytes premium installed for virus protection , so just ran a scan to see the time taken . It took 5 min 19 sec for about 264,000 files . I don`t know if a file is the same as an element . The scan time is about half of what it was 2 years ago , because of changes Malwarebytes has made . The program does the scan daily .

I don`t think my computer useage would be greatly different from yours , with one exception . I do not send myself 20 e-mails a day . I just bookmark links to any article I want to keep , and put it in the appropriate folder ( if it has been created , and if I remember) . Don`t know if that difference relates to your observation .

Will be interested in what the experts say .
 

randyrls

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Mal; The 1st thing to do is make a full backup of your system! Especially backup all your data files!

The slowdown may be a sign your computer is running out of disk space or some file is corrupt or a disk drive can't read a certain part of the drive. Open "Computer" on your system and look at the amount of "Free Space" on drive C:. It should be larger than 30 percent.

Load the Free version of Malwarebytes and run it too.

You can get a virus from valid web sites that have advertising. The advertisement can have a virus or malware. DON'T EVER install any pop-up that asks you to install a "site helper", "manager", or "site enhancer".

<RANT ON>
I would willingly drop anyone who writes malware into the sea off Madagascar; it is known by locals as 'sea of sharks' with a cut on their arm to let them contemplate their poor life choices for the few minutes they would have to live.
</RANT>
 

turncrazy43

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It appears you should be looking for a new operating system. Microsoft will no longer be supporting Windows seven as of January 2020. Can't help with your problem but thought you should know about the up coming problem. I also have windows 7.
Turncrazy43
 

Woodchipper

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Got W10 and Kaspersky anti-virus that was highly recommended by a friend. Works great plus I have a service contract with Staples- worth the money. Take it to them every few months and let them clean it up and check it out.
 

ebill

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I would appreciate any comments and suggestions ... PLEASE ! . Bear in mind that I am basically a "computer ignoramus" with low insult tolerance !! :)

- I have found over the years, that no one particular product is 100% adept and finding malware, tracking cookies, or viruses <viri?>. I typically use malwarebytes and adaware. Clean sweep works well too. I normally run adblock and uOrigins+ <extensions> on the browser all the time. For the record, I do not use IE, normally Chrome for FireFox.

- best thing you can do for your system is some major housekeeping, Dump, cookies, cache files unused programs, old page files etc. Windows has some adequate tools for system maintenance and as I recall Winders 7 still has disk frag. Clean up, run two or three programs <malware, adaware, etc). More than once each. Defrag the disk and run them all again <more than once>. You will be surprised that they can find something else even after they have just been run.

- once you have it running smoothly again, set a restore point and, make a full system back up in case it all goes tango uniform in the future.

- ebill
 

magpens

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@1080Wayne

Thanks for relating your experiences and for commiserating with mine. . Perhaps I should scrap Stopzilla and try Malwarebytes.

I have been running Stopzilla for many years and they gave me a lifetime license. . Don't know how I got started with them, but I remember feeling somewhat put off by the other available packages at the time (Norton and another).
 

magpens

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@randyrls

Thanks for comments.

Just checked Drive C: ..... 842 G free space; 73.6 G Used ..... so I guess that means the total capacity is 915.6 G, and usage of 8% and 92% free.
With a nearly 1 T main drive, I think you can see how small my usage is.
I also have a same -size secondary drive D: (recommended at time of purchase, but rarely used). . Nothing but a few family pics there.

I always ignore pop-ups and I also delete, without reading, any emails from unknown senders. . That's not 100% security guarantee, I know.
 

magpens

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@ebill

Thanks for your comments and suggestions ..... sounds like a hell of a lot of work to go to !!! . Especially for a dirty old fart averse to housecleaning.

BTW .... what is "tango uniform"? .... Oh ... maybe I get it ... TU ... military communication jargon ?????
 

magpens

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THANKS TO ALL SO FAR ...... but ......

...... does anybody think my suspicion that my cmptr is "hijacked" is at all credible ??

When I see scan data that "number of elements scanned" has gone up from 7 million to 12 million in a year, that's pretty alarming.

It's true that I have no clue what an "element" is, or how big it is, but that amount of assumed "rats**t" on my cmptr terrifies me !!!!!
 

monophoto

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Occam's Razor - the simplest explanation is most often the correct explanation.

I would be reluctant to jump to the conclusion that your computer has been hacked. Instead, I suspect that the increase in the number of scanned elements suggests that you have a lot of junk on your computer that could be cleaned out. Just as 'stuff' accumulates in a shop, junk accumulates in computer memory. Sure - you aren't using up much of the available storage, but ordinary usage creates a lot of superfluous files that can easily be eliminated.

There is a free app called CCleaner that can be very helpful in eliminating some of that junk. There may also be a Win 7 utility that could help (but it's been several years since I used Win 7 and I just don't remember). As a minimum, I suggest using File Explore to search for temporary files. Most, and perhaps all, of those can be deleted to reduce the number of files that must be scanned.
 

randyrls

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...... does anybody think my suspicion that my cmptr is "hijacked" is at all credible ??
When I see scan data that "number of elements scanned" has gone up from 7 million to 12 million in a year, that's pretty alarming.

Mal; It is possible, your computer is hijacked, but unlikely. What browser do you use? Try clearing the "Cache". Under options there will be a way to clear out the files the browser saves just in case they are needed again. This area is often much too large and causes both more files to accumulate and slowdowns.

Many files create "Temp" files but don't erase/delete the files when finished with them. So they just build up. CCCleaner is a good progrma to remove un-needed files.

BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING make a back up of your data files!
 

monophoto

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Don't know of any scandal but Kaspersky works great.


There are a number of good anti-virus programs to choose from - I prefer Norton, but Kaspersky and McAfee are both pretty good. Unfortunately, the situation for consumers is complicated by the fact that computer vendors typically enter into agreements with software supplers to push specific products, so what you have may depend more on who you bought your computer from than on the actual quality of the software. For example, Staples (and perhaps Best Buy) pushed Kaspersky pretty hard.

In recent years, there have been news reports around the fact that Kaspersky is a Russian company, and that some components of the US Government have decided to not allow Kaspersky on computers used by their employees for that reason. However, I'm not aware that there is any hard evidence of a malicious link between Kaspersky and the Russian government.
 

GaryMGg

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About a year ago, a Privilege Escalation vulnerability was found and posted for Stopzilla; the author notes the vendor never responded with a patch.
I don’t know if this is correct.
The exploit (exploits are BAD) is posted here:

That’s C programming and doesn’t mean anything to you but (1) it’s proof of vulnerability and (2) talented bad guys can use it to craft an attack from the code. Script-kiddies, not so much.

NB: looking for documentation to learn what an element is, I found this:

Jun 22, 2019 · A vulnerability was found in STOPzilla AntiMalware 6.5.2.59 (Anti-Malware Software). It has been declared as critical.

This tells me to obtain a replacement AV product and dump Stopzilla.

Thus, I would download the Sophos free AV Rootkit tool from here:
and run it—just to be sure my system is not compromised.
If it’s not, then I would look at house cleaning.
However, the amount of free space suggests it’s something else slowing down the system. It’s not likely to be your data.

Systems today are inexpensive; my Dell laptop w/ Windows 10 Pro, 8GB Ram and SSD HD was less than $200.
And, it happily runs Kali Linux, Ubuntu, and a couple other VMs inside VMWare Workstation.
You’ll be amazed at how much faster the system is with an SSD.
 
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robutacion

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@randyrls

My browser is Firefox.

I'll need to learn what a cache is :oops: and how to backup the "data" ...... hmmmm ? . (I did confess to being an ignoramus !)
There is nothing wrong for not being a computer guru, I'm certainly not nor I ever will but I remember well the difficulties I had in handling issues such as yours, computer terminology is confusing and simple actions are not so easy for those not too comfortable in messing about with a computer and the fear of doing something pretty bad to it so and while I read all the suggestions given and I may agree with some of them, I would strongly suggest you find someone that is good with computer and let him/her check things out for you, they know exactly where to go and what to do, they also know what looks OK and what doesn't and for a few bucks, you will save yourself a bad headache and probably so high rise in your blood pressure.

I talk from experience, I have had many people sorting my computers over the 20 years I have been working with them, I still today have no shame in paying for someone to come in to sort something that is beyond my capabilities, I have learnt to understand and deal/fix many of the issues that in the beginning did scare the hell out of me but my knowledge is still very limited.

I particularly liked Windows XP but I haven't had anything yet as good as Windows 10, the technology advances fastest than most of us realise that explains why computer people upgrade every 6 months, I do it maybe every 6 years...!o_O

Good luck,

Cheers
George
 

randyrls

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@randyrls

My browser is Firefox.

I'll need to learn what a cache is :oops: and how to backup the "data" ...... hmmmm ? . (I did confess to being an ignoramus !)

To clear cache; Open Firefox, click on menu item "Tools", then sub-menu "Options". Click on the "Privacy and Security". Scroll down and in the section titled "Cookies and Site Data" click on "Clear Data". There are two check boxes on the popup window. Clear the checkmark by "Cookies and site data". Check "Cached Web Content". It should think about it for a few seconds, then the popup windows should close. You are done. Web sites you visit may be slower the first time you go to them,
 

sbwertz

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do a google search for "process explorer" Download and run it. It will tell you exactly what is going on in your computer.
 

Woodchipper

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There are a number of good anti-virus programs to choose from - I prefer Norton, but Kaspersky and McAfee are both pretty good. Unfortunately, the situation for consumers is complicated by the fact that computer vendors typically enter into agreements with software supplers to push specific products, so what you have may depend more on who you bought your computer from than on the actual quality of the software. For example, Staples (and perhaps Best Buy) pushed Kaspersky pretty hard.

In recent years, there have been news reports around the fact that Kaspersky is a Russian company, and that some components of the US Government have decided to not allow Kaspersky on computers used by their employees for that reason. However, I'm not aware that there is any hard evidence of a malicious link between Kaspersky and the Russian government.
Kaspersky was recommended by a friend and not part of the computer purchase.
 
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