Over the years, the nefarious characters responsible for viruses, spyware and other forms of Malware have truly honed their tactics. In the last year we have seen a particularly sharp rise in professional looking malware. These are dangerous malware applications that purport to do one thing, when in fact their entire goal is something else. Take for example the issue with SMART HDD malware.
In short SMART HDD is a scam. It is a rogue program for Microsoft windows that attempts to confuse computer users into thinking that it is the similarly named S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) hardware monitoring system. It interacts with users by appearing as a popup stating that the user's drive is failing. This particular form of Malware would be classified as Scareware. Its purpose is to scare the user that there is a major danger to their file integrity. It does this by ruining your settings and personalized desktop, moving and hiding key files from access, and reporting several alarming looking disk integrity scans and failures. Effectively making so that when the user interacts with their computer the only thing that they encounter is a start bar with virtually nothing in it and file folders that no longer have any files in them, along with constantly replicating error messages. Then the user will begin to see numerous SMART HDD error screens pop up that highlight scan errors, and other bogus and fabricated reports.
This is a variant of many of the FakeAV software methodologies. It attempts to prevent the user from accessing and applications and will try to disable any anti-virus software present on the machine. The end game of the developers is to scare the user into believing that their file structure has been so compromised that they must purchase/activate a copy of Smart HDD so that it can restore system integrity. In the event that someone does purchase the software - the software will simply restore the moved and hidden folders and appear to have done its job. The reality of what has happened though is that the user has given all of their sensitive credit card information to a criminal enterprise and along with being at risk for future credit card fraud, they have spent a great deal of money and not removed the infection that caused the problem in the first place. One that will most certainly re-appear in the future, and potentially provide a backdoor for future attacks on the system.
There are a few ways that computers can become infected with the SMART HDD scareware.
1) You went to an unsafe site, and because of vulnerabilities, it was automatically installed on your machine
2) You used an unsafe "scan online" scam that installed the software.
3) Your system has vulnerabilities because it is not up to date on all patches and windows updates.
4) You don't have Malwarebytes (this is by far the most recommended tool for protecting your machine from Malware and scareware. We recommend it at least 2-3 times per week. It is affordable and worth every cent.
5) You opened an infected attachment.
Remaining protected from Malware can be difficult without the right tools. It is also important to delineate that a Virus and Malware are very different and many Anti-virus tools are not able to identify Malware such as SMART HDD. We recommend that you use a tool like Malwarebytes. It has a free edition for cleaning and removal of malware, and its Pro edition provides active protection from infections. Of all the anti malware software that we have evaluated over the years Malwarebytes is hands down the absolute best.
If you need information on how to remove the SMART HDD infection, Go to our friends over at bleepingcomputer.com. They offer a free step by step guide and links to all the tools you will need to safely clean your computer. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-smart-hdd
AM Data Service is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner providing reliable, cost effective information technology, network implementation and computer support services to businesses of all sizes in Michigan and Central Florida. For more information on how AM Data can help your organization please visit us at: http://www.amdataservice.com/contact-form.html