Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hindustan Times: Thanks for the virus

I stay away from Indian newspaper sites as much as I can because of the intrusive ads they use, but can't avoid them completely. So ,this morning, a link from Google News took me to the Hindustan Times website; about five seconds later, I got a virus alert. I hit 'Heal' on the virus guard and thought I'd caught it. I was mistaken. I found I couldn't access any files on the machine because, ostensibly, a disk defragmentation was required. I've seen that kind of thing before: run the defrag and it eventually says there's a problem with the system and only buying HDD Plus (the malware in question) will solve it.
The last virus that attacked my machine came from the Indian Railways online reservation system. That was particularly infuriating because it's a site that generates revenues through ticket sales and has no business foisting bank loan ads on clients.
Luckily I'm not in the middle (or worse, near the end) of a long article with an urgent deadline. Also, I use a wireless modem that allows me to surf from my laptop. Small mercies.


Sharat said...

Yes this has happened to me three times in the last seven days on the Hindustan Times. I have written to them hoping they will do something about it.

The simple solution for XP is a system restore, but it is a real pain. I downloaded an add-on for firefox which now blocks the site, all together, but I read a lot of news from multiple sources, and for me the loss of HT I will feel. The block is good though, because a lot of my news comes through Google News, and HT stories simply no longer show up as links.

Girish Shahane said...

Thanks Sharat; first thing I'm doing after I get my PC back is blocking HT.

manish nai said...


globalbabble said...

This happened to me with the Express Site.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised this still happens - have you tried using Chrome ?

The latest chrome comes with a flash sandbox that pretty much makes sure anything like this never happens.

Girish Shahane said...

I find Chrome rather annoying, very much prefer Mozilla. However, if what you say is correct, it might be worth bearing up with the annoyance.

jaimit said...

hmm. i have been using avast, which is a free anti virus and my home comp so far seems fine. disclaimer - 'so far = two years'
remember to register it (free) after the inital preiod. it downloads stuff and works well.

but whats funny is that you dont have an HT guy trying to contact you to explain or fix the problem. anal buggers.

Anonymous said...

My point is that it is fundamentally wrong for the antivirus to take care of this - the browser should NEVER allow some random thing to start running on your computer unless you download and install it.

Firefox is brilliant--- but it hasn't gone ahead and fixed Flash/PDF readers yet. Most of these bad things is because of Adobe Flash and Adobe PDF reader and Oracle JAVA plugins -- going into your preferences and disabling them pretty much makes you immune (especially if you are on a new browser). Disabling Flash is not really practical (you should still disable everything else) - which is why Google Chrome is needed or FlashBlock is a good add-on for Firefox that blocks flash unless you go out of your away to click on it and enable it (say for youtube). AdBlock is useful too.

Girish Shahane said...

Thanks for the advice, anonymous, greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I got hit 4/5 times with on Hindustan times web site with HDD virus and another mutation of it.
I was able to clean it manually with some dificulty. I always use a non-admin account for surfing so the virus installed only in one active user account.
When I could not delete it , I removed the account without removing the files and recreated the account.

The Shaolin said...

You just need two addons to for your firefox:
0. Adblock Plus
1. NoScript.
The first one will block all the well known and obscure adv, including the annoying flash ones. (check out my old review here).
The second one will simply prevent ANY website from running any scripts. It will, in fact, also prevent lots of hidden 3rd party stuff that keep collecting information about your browsing habits!
You just have to Enable/Allow websites manually once to let then function properly and keep all other crap blocked! Works great! I'm sure these 2 investments will go a loooong way for you. This will need some work just the first time you open any website, nothing on subsequent re-visits (until you re-install the addon).
These will let you access legitimate content on sloppily designed websites while reducing your risks to near zero.
You can take it a notch up from there by installing WOT firefox addon. But won't bore you with that now :)
Ping me if you need any help.

Girish Shahane said...

Makes sense, since 90% of the sites I visit are repeats. Thanks, Shaolin.