Virus/spyware expert

Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Member Posts: 184
With all the viruses and spyware/malware running rampant out there, and with so many computer noobs feeling helpless when their security programs don't do the job, I wonder if there's a place for someone who can *really* diagnose the problem and sanitize their systems? (And it IS a long learning-process of knowing how to eradicate this stuff, where to look, and the specific programs to use to fix specific problems). After all, if you have, say, spyware running rampant on your computer, and McAfee or Norton aren't cutting it, where do you turn? Geeksquad? A nameless computer shop out of the yellow pages? icon_scratch.gif

Seems to me that if someone is able to do the job, he could find a niche for himself in this much-needed market. Even helping companies, not just individuals.

Comments

  • carboncopycarboncopy Member Posts: 259
    Honestly most people are not safe nowadays. I see people going to legit sites like football team sites and basketball sites and getting redirected to a malicious site where a trojan is then dropped into their pc. After running the trojan through virus total you can see where just a few AVs (< 5) pick up on it. So even AVs a failing at making sure you are safe icon_neutral.gif
  • the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I've often thought about doing this (been known to go into the registry and start attacking them from time to time), but there is always one issue I run into. Spyware tends to come back so people will think you didn't do the job. My sisters work computer continues to get the same spyware/virus. They clean it off and it comes back. My idea was to come, fix the issue, then show the user how to use the tools, and train them to check on a regular schedule. But then you lose business. Too tough to be a one trick pony because sometimes it's not just spyware or a virus....
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  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Member Posts: 184
    I used to work in Internet support, and I saw this kind of problem constantly. Even I got spyware occasionally that none of my "protection" filtered out. At the time, if it didn't help me, I was borderline about to take my computer to a random shop somewhere for help. If I - the computer guy - was struggling, I know that those less experienced (which is a big chunk) aren't going to know what to do. Not that I'm trained now to help now in those situations, but I know there's a market for someone who could fix this sort of thing.

    Of course, if you're making house calls, it would necessarily have to be a local market situation. The down side is that I'd have to make a lot of house calls each day in order to support myself. icon_neutral.gif

    I wonder what Geek Squad charges for a house call?
  • Agent6376Agent6376 Member Posts: 201
    Hi All,

    I happen to be one of Geek Squad's field agents. A typical house call for viruses and spyware is $299. In my opinion, viruses and spyware removal has become increasingly difficult. I honstly dont know how you could remove some of the variants out there without booting into Windows PE or slaving the drive to another machine. Some of the viruses now are infecting so many files that it makes repair near impossible without a restore. We communicate quite a bit on forums and spread the word on how to combat different malware, and generally try everything we can to not restore a client's machine. We also have very good tools ranging from scanners, process monitors, and file management that bypasses permissions.

    As to the OP, I think your skills would be better served for an anti-malware company where you can be part of development as opposed to residential or even commerical work. You could go out on a limb and start your own thing, but I think your job would be encompassed by "PC Repair" and not "Spyware Expert". Scanners are pretty much necessary to remove most infections with having 400-500 registry keys cooresponding to the actual files that you've found in C:\Windows, C:\Windows\system32, C:\Program Files, Prefetch, temp files, system32\drivers, etc. The other issue is that with a lot of these infections if you dont catch every single trace of the malware it will rebuild itself over the course of a week or so.

    Two years ago I'd say go for it. Now even though I deal with malware on a daily basis, I've had to take a hit to my ego and most infections that I come across cannot be removed manually. Instead we have a system that runs a series of scans including Kaspersky, A-squared, Webroot System Analyzer, Panda, and McAfee command line.

    In whatever you decide to do, good luck. Removing malware is NOT easy and it does take some knowledge to ensure that you dont pwn a system when trying to manually remove infections.
  • celbiicelbii Member Posts: 13 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Agent6376 wrote: »
    Hi All,

    I happen to be one of Geek Squad's field agents. A typical house call for viruses and spyware is $299.

    One thing to remember if you do try to start up your own gig, which is probably better to do as a supplement to a current job you have, you can use this to your advantage. I have my own website that I get work from occasionally, and its usually people dissatisfied with geek squad and such places and the prices(sorry not trying to hate on you).

    If someone drops their computer off to me or I pick it up i'll only charge $40 an hour that im working on it, and I don;t charge them while I have the computer sitting their scanning. Rarely I do something like that in their home because it can be very time consuming. also if you do that, make sure you cap your hours, you dont want to charge your customers $500 for virus removals if they take that long because you wont get anymore :p
    Hopefully Security+ or mcsa next =)
  • PsoasmanPsoasman Senior Member Member Posts: 2,687 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I deal with spyware removal on a daily basis. First thing is teaching users common sense.
    1. don't open attachments that are executables. We lock down what our users can open.
    2. use a good A/V suite. I like Eset NOD 32, it catches about everything
    3. have good backups on hand, so if you do have to wipe the computer, you won't lose data.

    $299 for house calls? This might be offensive, but that is an outrageous fee to charge as you can almost buy a new computer for that.
  • NightShade03NightShade03 Member Posts: 1,383 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I deal with spyware/viruses very easily......run linux icon_wink.gif
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,314 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Psoasman wrote: »
    $299 for house calls? This might be offensive, but that is an outrageous fee to charge as you can almost buy a new computer for that.

    We charge $120/hr for on-site work. How long does it take for a scan (or two, three, etc.) to run? It's a breeze to do a dozen machines simultaneously here at the shop. We charge a flat fee of $99 regardless of how much time it takes if they bring it in. If they're too lazy to do that, and they want a tech to sit out there for hours watching a bar go across the screen, then they pay a premium. I don't deal with any of this myself, but that's how we do it here.

    Personally, I always recommend a reinstall, and I would do that to my own machine in a heartbeat if I thought it was compromised. Once someone else has executed code on your machine, it's not your machine anymore. It doesn't matter if scanning with any type of software shows your machine as clean; there's no guarantee at that point. You don't know if there's a rootkit installed, you don't know if the definitions have been altered, etc.

    A guy that is half competitor, half partner came in the other day and went on this tirade about how hard it was to remove some of the newer viruses and spyware. He was on a mission to remedy the situation because, "If we can't, then they win!" Then he started blasting people who reinstalled because, "That's the easy way! They're just giving up!" After about 15 minutes of this, I say, "So what if you get it back to what seems like normal operating conditions, but there's a rootkit silently logging and reporting keystrokes?" I don't think he knew what a rootkit was...
  • someehsomeeh Member Posts: 143
    I mainly use spybot> and eset and on my other partitions where I dual boot, I use panda AV. I usually scan my PC for spyware/malware once a week. I'll do a virus scan maybe once or twice a month.

    Now if you make house calls and the user has no protection, get ready to sit in the saddle because you'll be there hours trying to avoid a restore. But in reality it beats sitting there hours running scans and trying to update the AV or spyware software to get rid of the malicious software and viruses.
  • homerj742homerj742 Member Posts: 251
    someeh wrote: »
    I mainly use spybot> and eset and on my other partitions where I dual boot, I use panda AV. I usually scan my PC for spyware/malware once a week. I'll do a virus scan maybe once or twice a month.

    Now if you make house calls and the user has no protection, get ready to sit in the saddle because you'll be there hours trying to avoid a restore. But in reality it beats sitting there hours running scans and trying to update the AV or spyware software to get rid of the malicious software and viruses.


    The only problem doing a restore during a house call is that it may not even get rid of the infection. Thus reinstalling the OS is the next best option, and they don't always have their Product Key/CD/ or any other necessary information.
  • someehsomeeh Member Posts: 143
    homerj742 wrote: »
    The only problem doing a restore during a house call is that it may not even get rid of the infection. Thus reinstalling the OS is the next best option, and they don't always have their Product Key/CD/ or any other necessary information.


    I meant reinstalling** sorry, you are right regarding not having a product key or even media. That can also be time consuming even if they do have the media/and key. You would have to install all the device drivers/service packs, not including all the software they had installed... AHH!!!! such a tedious task. I agree with having back ups but the majority of end users don't even know about backing up unless they are tech savy.
  • Daniel333Daniel333 Member Posts: 2,077 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Friends and family I have running Vista/Avast/SpySweeper/Secunia Personal Advisor/OpenDNS. No malware issues in almost 2 years since making them all switch.

    Professionally speaking, if you have decently patch management and lock your systems down with group policy, malware is a non-issue. Although I understand it can be a little political to get there in the SMB market.

    What should the average user do, when they no one to turn to? That is a good question. I suppose this is why Microsoft wants to start packaging Antimalware software more and more with Windows.
    -Daniel
  • homerj742homerj742 Member Posts: 251
    someeh wrote: »
    I meant reinstalling** sorry, you are right regarding not having a product key or even media. That can also be time consuming even if they do have the media/and key. You would have to install all the device drivers/service packs, not including all the software they had installed... AHH!!!! such a tedious task. I agree with having back ups but the majority of end users don't even know about backing up unless they are tech savy.

    Exactly!

    One of my old jobs, my boss would just make us install bootleg windows xp. how wrong is that!
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,314 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Just use Magic Jellybean and grab the key before you wipe it.
  • someehsomeeh Member Posts: 143
    homerj742 wrote: »
    Exactly!

    One of my old jobs, my boss would just make us install bootleg windows xp. how wrong is that!

    Yeah! that isn't right, I mean in a business you don't want to get audit and they find you are installing bogus copies.
  • the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Yeah spyware is just turning into a big pain and the worst part is they don't send you a copy of the OS disc anymore. What really gets me is when I can't get rid of the mal-ware and the only option is to use the built in restore. Takes an hour and slows the machine down!
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  • Agent6376Agent6376 Member Posts: 201
    Psoasman wrote: »
    I deal with spyware removal on a daily basis. First thing is teaching users common sense.
    1. don't open attachments that are executables. We lock down what our users can open.
    2. use a good A/V suite. I like Eset NOD 32, it catches about everything
    3. have good backups on hand, so if you do have to wipe the computer, you won't lose data.

    $299 for house calls? This might be offensive, but that is an outrageous fee to charge as you can almost buy a new computer for that.

    Yes it's high, but client's are willing to pay the price. Being on-site to remove a malware infection for $299 is justified when you take into consideration the vehicles, fuel, training, insurance, labor, cell phones, and phone support that are all part of the job.

    If a client opts to bring the machine to the store it's $199. The drawbacks of this being that it could take anywhere from 2-7+ days depending on turn time at that particular store, whereas with in-home services clients don't have to take down their machines and hook them back up. Also, the service will be completed usually on the same day of when the technician arrives.

    If anything it gives incentive for small business to increase their prices to undercut Best Buy and still turn a good profit. Just because it's easy for anyone on these forums to remove viruses and spyware does not mean that it's easy for everyone. If you find a price that consumers are willing to pay comfortably, then by all means use that price to gain clientele-whether that price is 300 bucks or 100. The question is how much do you value your own knowledge?
  • msteinhilbermsteinhilber Member Posts: 1,480 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Agent6376 wrote: »
    If anything it gives incentive for small business to increase their prices to undercut Best Buy and still turn a good profit. Just because it's easy for anyone on these forums to remove viruses and spyware does not mean that it's easy for everyone. If you find a price that consumers are willing to pay comfortably, then by all means use that price to gain clientele-whether that price is 300 bucks or 100. The question is how much do you value your own knowledge?

    This is very true, regarding incentive for small businesses to increase their prices to undercut Best Buy. I managed a couple various branches of a 20ish store PC retailer in Wisconsin. Over the 8 years I spent there, each and every one of our locations that witnessed a Best Buy branch open up nearby all noticed a significant increase in both sales as well as service. What I found to be the norm though, was not a $199 in-shop fee that customers were pushed to pay. They are almost always pushed to the $299 in store "diagnostic & repair with backup" and then were often sold Webroot SpySweeper as well as Norton AV for about $50 each. That is completely outrageous no matter how high you value your own knowledge. A skilled tech with the correct resources (OS CD's with common free apps such as Acrobat Reader, etc as well as common drivers slipstreamed) can perform a backup and reinstall in an hour and a half to two hours, we did it like that all the time - and the actual hands-on involved is maybe a half hour of time. Now if you were able to actually provide a guaranteed clean PC for a $199 in shop fee that might be worthwhile, but I saw enough computers come my way with a pink Best Buy sticker on them for me to fix up after malware came back that I don't think the success rate was very high.
  • Daniel333Daniel333 Member Posts: 2,077 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Just wanted to throw out some of our base pricing for the Managed services company I work for. Most of this is negotiable, but this is what we come to the table with.

    The company must comply to our standards first off before we will take them as managed, which normally means costly upgrades. We also require all their hardware be under warranty with the manufacturer.

    Monitor/patch and troubleshoot -
    $500/month per server
    $50/month per managed switch/router
    $25/month per workstation
    $250-350 an hour, for non covered services


    So Geek Squad seems expensive to the average working class Joe. And chances are they won’t go back there again if they did pay for it once.

    But understand to the middle class, home or small business $400 flat rate to get a machine back up and running can seem like a real bargain against paying a company like mine. The computers cost is not the factor, the downtime and reliablility in their processes are what it's measured against.
    -Daniel
  • Agent6376Agent6376 Member Posts: 201
    We could talk about Geek Squad prices and the quality of the service, but I can confidently say that each and every store is different. Such is the case when you deal with a big box business. I don't doubt that you've had dissatisfied clients from Geek Squad because reality is that Best Buy will hire a saleman (or woman) over a tech and teach them what they need to know to get the job done, not the other way around.

    There are some markets where we try very hard to make each client satisfied with the services and the prices they paid for them. Stores services are very different than field work. The employees in the stores usually have much, much more number crunching going on and expectations are very high. Some employees have good technical background and a genuine passion for technology, and to some it's just another job they have to get spending money.

    My point is that whether the cost of the service is too high or not is up to each individual client. Best Buy will continue to have the prices that they do because people continue to use our services. It opens the doors for many companies to point at us and call us the bad guys with the goofy outfits, but in a sense smaller businesses need an entity like Best Buy so they they can save the day with the better prices and services. Also, each individual shop is different. Oftentimes we're the ones fixing another local company's mistakes as well, but that's another story.
  • PsoasmanPsoasman Senior Member Member Posts: 2,687 ■■■■■■■■■□
    hmmm.... I didn't realize the service calls were priced that high all around. I work on my family and friends computer for free, only charging for parts. I have had a few friends who have had someone come out and charge $200 for just looking at the computer and then another chunk of change to actually fix the problem.
    I just don't like seeing anybody get taken advantage of.
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