Readers' Forum - February 2005

by Rob Zorn and Mike Cooper
from the February 2005 Newsletter

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send me an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and answer your question by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

Kay writes: Hello; On recommendations arising from a previous Actrix newsletter, I downloaded the free Spybot Search & Destroy Program. I am concerned that every time I run this program, two "red flagged" spywares reappear, even after I have clicked on "fix the selected problem(s)". These two are named DSO Exploit, and Real Money. Real Money seems to affix itself to a different desktop file after it has supposedly been deleted, and the DSO Exploit reappears again when I run the Spybot program immediately after I thought I had fixed these two problems. Can you please tell me what is going one here, and do I have a problem that needs addressing?

Mike Cooper responds: The DSO Exploit is an issue with Internet Explorer/Outlook Express that SpyBot picks up on. Microsoft has since fixed the vulnerability via Windows Update, however SpyBot will still report it as a fault. The fault with SpyBot has also been repaired and it should be fixed with a program update for SpyBot shortly, so this isn't something to worry about, though you should be sure to keep current with Windows updates.

More info about the SpyBot fault is available here: http://www.safer-networking.org/en/faq/36.html.

More info about the DSO Exploit: http://channels.lockergnome.com/windows/archives/20041105_whats_a_dso_exploit_and_how_do_i_get_rid_of_it.phtml

If you haven't visited WindowsUpdate recently it is highly advisable that you do so in order to ensure your machine is totally up to date with all security fixes: http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com. It's also be a good time to make sure your virus scanner is current and up to date as well.

The "Real Money" item that SpyBot is picking up is a little harder to pin down. I get the feeling it relates to a program which keeps making a shortcut to a web-site on your desktop. This shortcut refers you to a web-site, and the author gets paid for each "hit" on the site.

Information on why SpyBot detects it is listed here: http://www.safer-networking.org/en/threats/22.html. It reports that it may be related to a program called "Windows Control" which you may have installed on your PC.

Maureen writes: After reading the good reports on the Free AVG Virus Scan, I took the plunge and downloaded it this morning, but a couple of hours later had to uninstall it again. Once installed I couldn't get any e-mails in at all and outgoing ones only with great difficulty, i.e. the Norton's AV stuttering through the process like a failing light bulb. On phoning Actrix Support the advice was to uninstall AVG. I did, and everything worked fine. The added comment being that Actrix were getting lots of queries re this problem. Have things changed since you first recommended it?

My second query is...why do some e-mails (two senders in particular) go straight to my Deleted Items folder in Outlook Express?

Mike responds: Hi Maureen, AVG has just undergone a major revision. At the time we were recommending it, they were running version 6. They have now released version 7 which seems to have a few teething issues particularly with its pass-through mail scanner. Actrix Support was definitely correct in this being quite a widespread issue - unfortunately a problem that occurs with almost all AntiVirus programs. You may be able to look at installing AVG 7 and disabling the pass-through mail scanning, however even this is no guarantee it won't cause problems. There is no easy fix for this really - it becomes a bit of the "rock and a hard place" where antivirus software causes all sorts of problems, but without it you are at risk.

There are other free scanners around that may be worth a try, particularly: http://www.clamwin.com/ and http://www.free-av.com/. These are both good free scanners that may be worth using in place of AVG. Actrix is still scanning all inbound e-mail for viruses which does remove a lot of the potential threats, but we still recommend customers have their own personal protection.

The second issue is most probably occurring because these senders have been added to your "Blocked Senders List" in Outlook Express. To remove these addresses:

Judy & John write: We have Windows 95. Can you please tell us how to get pictures which come through as a space with a red cross in the LH corner? I can get the message but not the pictures. Thanks.

The problem you describe is generally not a fault at your end. Rather it is a problem with the person sending you the e-mail.

Some e-mails can refer to pictures that are either located at a specific location on the sender's computer, or exist on a web-site somewhere on the Internet. When these messages are forwarded on to someone else, they may not always take the images with them, or the site they referred to may no longer have the pictures available.

The person sending you the message may be able to change a setting in their mail program to fix this. In Outlook Express the setting is found by going to:

Tools --> Options --> Send --> HTML Settings --> Make sure a tick is next to "Send pictures with messages".

The only thing on your PC that may affect this is if you have Outlook Express set to only display in plain text. However, I see this one as unlikely to fix it. You can check this by going to:

Tools --> Options --> Read --> Make sure there isn't a tick next to "Read all messages in plain text".

Ken writes: Some time ago I downloaded the 'Smiley Central' programme and have used it often on e-mails. Lately the Smiley Central icon on the tool bar is greyed out and I cannot access it. I have searched the list of programmes on my computer but cannot find it. When bringing up the Smiley Central URL and trying to download it again it comes up with the message that it is already installed in your computer. Where is it?

Hi Ken, If it's on your computer, you should try and find it in Add/Remove programs (which you need to get to from the Control Panel). It'll probably be listed as one, some or all of these:

If it's not one of those, you''ll need to read through the whole list as it will be mentioned in some way, or another.

To get to your Control panel via Windows 95-2000:  Start/Settings/Control Panel.
To get to your Control panel via Windows XP:  Start button/Control Panel

You may need to remove it completely before you download it a second time. I am not sure why it is greyed out, but the easiest thing might be just to remove it and start again.

However, our advice would be not to reinstall it, as it is a well known adware/pop-up/spyware/bloat app: See http://www.doxdesk.com/parasite/MySearch.html.

It fact we'd even be so bold as to suggest a round of SpyWare removal tools: http://files.actrix.co.nz/viewsub.php?subcategory=SpyWare&category=Security

And if you have W2000/XP you may want to get the new Microsoft anti-spyware thing: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx (more on this in future newsletters).