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Google to warn PC virus victims via search site
7/21/2011 3:22:31 PM

Google has begun issuing warnings to millions of people that their PC has been infected with a virus.

The malicious code pipes browser traffic through sites that promote the scammers' wares which include fake security programs.

Those hit by the virus will be warned with a message that will appear at the top of searches carried out via Google.

The search firm estimates that more than two million people have been hit by the infection.

Stolen traffic

Google uncovered the huge number of infected machines while doing routine maintenance on a data centre.

During maintenance, Google servers get taken offline and typically this means search traffic for that cluster of machines dries up.

However, wrote Damian Menscher on the official Google blog, switching off one cluster did not stop all traffic.

Investigation revealed that the traffic was being generated by a virus on perhaps a million Windows machines. The virus bounced packets of data off the net address of the Google servers to find out if they were online.

"The malware appears to have gotten onto users' computers from one of roughly a hundred variants of fake anti-virus, or 'fake AV' software that has been in circulation for a while," wrote Mr Menscher.

The main effect of the virus seems to be to funnel search requests through intermediate sites that promote fake security programs and other scams.

Google will be putting a warning at the top of search results seen by people with a machine known to have bounced data off the Google servers. The warning contains a link to advice pages that help people update their anti-virus and clean up their PC.

So far, said Google, it has warned "hundreds of thousands" of users and expects to notify many more.

Story from the BBC

The PC Guy

An app which is providing data for a BBC survey into the UK's 3G coverage has notched up 33,000 downloads
7/20/2011 3:01:42 PM

The results will be collated and offered via a clickable map to give the first glimpse of what a 3G UK really looks like.

Veteran tweeter Stephen Fry has given the project his backing, encouraging "UK Androiders" to download it.

Epitiro, the data measurement firm that developed the app, said it had addressed concerns about battery drain.

"We have a new version of the app which doesn't test continually but for four hours at key points in the day. It stops testing if battery life drops below 30% but can test continually when a phone is being charged," said Iain Wood, a spokesman for Epitiro.

The app will provide data to show where the UK's 3G notspots are.

Coverage is one of the biggest issues for consumers, according to regulator Ofcom, and it is due to publish its own survey in coming weeks.

Some BBC readers were delighted that the issue of coverage was finally being addressed.

"Great idea! Have installed the app on my phone and will watch the results with interest," commented one.

Others pointed out that there were other apps doing a similar thing - such as

Some expressed frustration that the app was only currently available for Android handsets.

"How many people in the highlands have Android phones? asked one annoyed reader.


1) You will need an Android handset

2) Download the app  from Android Marketplace

3) Once downloaded, data will be collected without you having to do anything more

4) If you wish to see what coverage is like in a particular place, simply click on the app

5) The app is free to download

6) It uses very little bandwidth

7) The data is anonymised and neither Epitiro nor the BBC will collate or store any personal data

"Android users are tech savvy and will be working/living in an area with good reception. After all if they had poor reception they wouldn't buy a smartphone, Android or otherwise, in the first place," pointed out one reader.

Brendan Gill, co-founder of rival app opensignalmaps thinks the Epitiro app should also measure download speed.

"It only measures signal strength and that is a limited metric," he said.

Speed tests conducted by Epitiro on behalf of Ofcom found that O2 and Vodafone were the fastest UK operators, averaging between 2 and 3Mbit/s, compared to Orange which managed between 1Mbit/s and 1.5Mbit/s.

Story from the BBC

The PC Guy

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