Malwarebytes, which has been my go-to anti-virus program for a few years now, but it found nothing. I pulled up the Windows Task Manager (Ctl-Alt-Del) and the list of tasks is looking a little long. What is all this stuff? So I start Googling program names and quickly find that several of them are nothing but trouble. The Liutilities website seems to be offering clear information about this malware, so I download their cleaner and run it, and low and behold, it finds 1600 odd problems and for only $24.95 it will get rid of them for me. Thanks but no thanks, I like my software to be free, not that I have a philosophical problem with paying for it, I'm just cheap. I try a couple other registry cleaners and they either want money or they want me to call. I'm tired of this so I dig down deep in the old memory banks and pull up Ad-Aware, which was like the first big anti-malware program. I don't remember how many years ago I first ran it. Anyway, it took a little doing to get a copy because their website was giving me errors. I suspect one of those other registry cleaners somehow blocked the connection. It was just too blatant to be real.
I scanned my computer with Ad-Aware and it found over 2,000 problems and then got rid of them, without demanding any money or a phone call. And wouldn't you know it? Their website is now miraculously working.
Some of these protection companies make their money by selling their service to large organizations. They give away free copies to you and me to spread the word about how great their stuff is. But I suspect it's kind of a feast or famine market, so the companies that survive are the ones who stay on top of the situation. But doing that takes work, and work generally wants to get paid, so you need to generate some revenue. Software is funny that way. The simplest brain-dead programs can be the biggest sellers and generate billions of dollars in sales (Quicken and Turbo-Tax spring to mind), while esoteric programs that actually do some useful computing (scientific stuff mostly) are written by unpaid graduate students. Kind of an academic parallel to college football.
19 hours ago