As an internet newbie several years ago, I probably fell for every possible scam, virus, and form of spyware that I could get suckered into. Lucky for me, none of them were crippling to my computer or sense of security. The internet Gods have been quite kind to me and I am thankful. And on that note, if people like me do not exist, then virus creators would have very little prey. Because at one point, I did not believe in shifting extra monetary assets into a proper form of virus or spyware protection. Besides, like many young people I was borne of the mentality, “It could never happen to me.”
Well, I was wrong. Many times. The first virus I ever got in contact with on-line was right through my yahoo messenger. Before this, I never knew that was even a possibility, let alone something that could develop into a major nuisance. The “contagion rate,” that is, the rate in which a given computer can be infected is extremely high. A message from a trusted friend will appear in yahoo messenger. Something like “See if you can get this to work,” or “I wanted to show you this” followed by a link. The link always ends with the numbers 8180, making the aplore virus fairly easy to detect…and avoid. I did not have this knowledge beforehand. The virus can appear in the middle of a conversation you are having with an infected friend and can only attach itself to your computer by clicking on the link itself (not just by having a conversation). Mine told me too late that he did not send this message, nor was he responsible for the link that I clicked on. Incidentally enough, once you click on the link, your computer will very temporarily black out. After that, any other person you talk to using yahoo messenger will also get messages regarding that link. These messages will send automatically and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Well, ok. There appears to be a solution to the madness. If you play it cheap, and decide not to have a firewall, virus protection, or spyware prevention on your computer, you may have to take the more difficult route to rid yourself of this pesk. Granted, I had the Aplore virus on my computer for a couple of days and it did very little that corrupted the hard drive. My home page was switched to a hard core pornography site (I swear…that was NOT my original home page!). Also, according to Symantec, I was informed that this variant of virus also started just as soon as I booted the computer. This threat was not just isolated to yahoo’s messenger though; in fact, it remains far more prevalent in AOL’s and Microsoft’s messenger programs.
So what exactly is the big deal regarding the Aplore virus? What exactly is it capable of? Little is known regarding that subject, but as a first-time virus receiver, it certainly scared me straight. I felt almost violated and decided to do some homework regarding this bug. Removal, as it turns out, appears quite simple:
1.) Start your computer in safe mode
For most computer set-ups, this task can be accomplished simply by hitting the “F4” key while your computer is booting. Then, scroll down to the safe mode option (usually #3) and hit enter. Your computer will take on the graphical appearance of the Atari 2600 or a Commodore 64. This is normal in safe mode.
2.) Run a System Scan
For Windows XP, go to “start,” followed by the tab labeled “All Programs.” Next, scroll to “Accessories,” then “System tools.” Lastly, depending on your computer system, you should find a tab named “Security Center.” From here, you are capable of running a system scan. This procedure, depending on the memory of your system, may take several minutes.
3.) Deletion Time!
Once the system has scanned, delete all files that have been detected as: W32.aplore@mm. In most cases, this will eliminate the virus entirely. For good measure, there exists one more step that requires your utmost attention though.
4.) Protect Yourself!
Playing games on the computer can be fun, but playing games with your computer’s security can be catastrophic. Obviously you should never click on a site you do not fully know and trust. And you should always have some form of protection, whether it be through a yearly service like McAfee’s Security Center, or a fairly decent free service like the one offered at www.grisoft.com. These will enable you to experience internet bliss…or at least assist you in exterminating a pesky bug like the Aplore virus and its variants.