It has certainly been an interesting last couple of weeks in the technology world. A bug was found in the code of a popular SSL encryption program used by about 66% of the internet. Pretty scary stuff.
Armand Valdes at Mashable.com explains this in very simple terms:
Luckily it wasn’t a potential hacker that spotted this flaw, it was the researchers. Luckily the issue was remedied with a security patch. Even more luckily, the major companies that use the encryption software have applied this patch quickly.
But the problem is not resolved yet. As I said earlier, a lot of websites have been affected by this flaw and this includes email setups, social networks, banks and websites that are used every day:
Someone has already been arrested for attempting to steal compromised data from the Canadian IRS: http://www.christianpost.com/news/man-charged-in-heartbleed-attack-virus-compromised-canadian-irs-118121/ Therefore you should, without delay, go through http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/, and see which websites affect you and change your passwords. Even if you haven’t included payment details, your personal information is still there for the taking.
It is a pain changing passwords and trying to remember them, but to keep things running as smoothly as possible, here’s a few tips:
So no excuses, change your passwords and have a nice rest of the day.
A few days ago, the media player on my PC needed updating, so as normal I went through the necessary procedure to update it. It was only when I came to open my local web browser that I realised my default home page had been reset to Conduit Search that I realised what had happened.
Being a web developer, I have 5 browsers running on each PC that I use for testing my websites. All except one of these browsers had Conduit listed as both the default search engine and the default home page.
I cleared this up form my browsers as much as I could, but this proved to be a fruitless action because when the Browser Updater sprang into action a couple of days later, the default pages were reset back to Conduit Search and it was again listed as a search engine!
Some software websites do take the liberty of including extra toolbars in with their software. I have no idea if they think they’re improving their viewers experience or if a regular bit of commission is involved. Regardless, they did ask for permission during the download/installation process, via a very discreet checkbox that is already checked.
Looking up Conduit in Google, one of the entries labels Conduit as a virus. It is actually an adware program. Basically you can use Conduit to search for photos, videos etc. However it does collect your personal information, along with browsing history and search habits and it hijacks your browser settings. Whatever the definition , it’s a pain in the backside and should be removed without delay.
Furthermore, if there really is a hell, programmers who sneak Conduit and other such softwares should be sent to it. But that’s just my opinion.
So for the above reasons, I have compiled a complete guide to removing this pesky software for good and then a few pointers of what to watch out for next time.
NB: I do target Conduit search in this article, but this should work with other similar software. I have also tested this on Windows 7 and 8. If I have overlooked anything then please feel free to either comment or drop me a line and I will gladly update it.
First things first you will need to uninstall the program from your machine for Windows:
So click Start > Control panel
Select Programs and Features
Right click the program and select Uninstall
That at least stops the PC updating it and re-installing it onto your browser. After which just run a quick search on Conduit. Sometimes more than one program will install itself, so searching for anything related to Conduit or conduit.com will show any further programs that will also need removing.
Next lets remove the program from your browser. This normally includes in your browser’s search engine selection, your default page on opening the browser and a search bar. Did I mention I had 4 of these little bad boys to remove?
Click the Advanced Tab
This is followed by a procedure window
When finished click Close
Restart Internet Explorer
Go to Help > Troubleshooting Information
Under the section Reset Firefox to its default state Click the Reset Firefox button
Click the Reset FireFox button in a separate window
NB: This process might take a while for various tidy programs to run
Click Finish button when completed
Anything listed under Conduit click the trash can alongside it
Then we need to remove Conduit from the search engines as well:
Under Search, Click the Manage Search Engines button
In the list, find Search Conduit hover over it and click the x that appears
Click Done button
Conduit has also changed your default home page to search.conduit.com:
While still in Settings, Under On Startup, select the radio button Open a specific page or set of pages and click the set pages link
If listed, hover over Conduit and remove by clicking x
Back in the Settings page, under Startup, Select the Open new Tab page radio and test by clicking the new tab
Surprisingly, Safari on Windows 7 wasn’t affected by Conduit in any way. I did search online and have found that its a different story with a Mac.
Go to Extensions > Manage Extensions
Remove Search Conduit from the list by clicking Uninstall
Close Opera browser and restart.
As a safety measure, go into the Search bar and click Manage search engines
Once you have removed everything from your PC, it would be worthwhile to download an adware program and run it on your machine.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&sqi=2&ved=0CDkQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdownload.cnet.com%2FAdwCleaner%2F3000-7786_4-75851221.html&ei=X8TfUeKSKMqa0AXv3IHACw&usg=AFQjCNGKixggWUWfjgTc4wJ-OwLikOHF8A&sig2=fy70S_mIW3krwzcLvZryIQ&bvm=bv.48705608,d.d2k&cad=rjt Is a free download that runs on Windows 7. Follow the instructions to download and install carefully and then let it do the work.
As an extra precaution, run a full system scan using your anti-virus software. I use have used Norton 360 for a number of years, but even they proudly announce that Conduit updates were safe. This bold claim may change over time (I sure hope so!), but malicious software will get picked up by a reputable virus software that is updated regularly.
There is also Malware Bytes which also removes trojans, viruses, worms and other general nasties from your system https://store.malwarebytes.org/342/cookie?affiliate=17877&redirectto=http%3a%2f%2fwww.malwarebytes.org%2fproducts%2fmalwarebytes_free that enables you to a 14 day free trial.
Pace yourself when setting up the new software
It is so easy to just click to the next screen during an installation wizard but this is how they get on there in the first place. Read software reviews prior to downloading: If anyone has had a bad experience, they are most certainly going to alert others.
Read the download screen and uncheck the boxes. Yes it will take longer, but it takes longer to sift through your browsers and PC to remove the carnage.
As covered earlier, regularly run a full system scan of your machine. This will resolve or permanently remove any viruses or other particular nasties from your machine.
This will of course slow your PC down, but most virus softwares can be scheduled to run automatically when your machine is not being used (eg night time or early morning)
It should go without saying that make sure said virus software is set up to update as and when needed.
Install/setup your firewall
While we’re on the subject of protection, a reliable firewall is also a good investment as this can block unauthorised software communications made from your PC.
So there we have it. If this has helped at least one person from this pesky browser hijacker then please could you let me know. If you would like me to write up a version for Windows XP or Vista, then please do drop me a line.
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