Understanding Malware Malware is a big problem for computer owners and there are many different types of malware. These are malicious programs that cause problems for your computer. Sometimes these programs try to gain information from your computer such as bank account numbers or credit card information. They can be in the form of scripts, code, or even small software programs. These are often picked up on Internet sites or found attached to files. In essence malware covers many different things such as worms, rootkits, viruses, ransomware, dialers, adware, and spyware. Malware is usually something else besides just a straight computer virus. It’s usually a worm or a Trojan. What Does Malware Do? Malware can give hackers access to your computer so they can steal information or otherwise see what’s inside your system. This makes malware specifically dangerous for large companies which need to protect information. A good computer firewall can help protect you from malware that you pick up over the Internet. All Wi-Fi hotspots that you use should be protected by a password. Malware can also allow someone to see your web habits, computer activity, and even the keystrokes you’re typing into your computer without you even knowing what’s going on. Malware can also be dangerous because it can lead to identity theft when someone steals your information from your computer and uses it to gain access to your money or other financial data. This is why it’s critical to have good virus and malware software installed and updated on your computer system. Malware can also delete files, format your disks, and even lock you out of your computer entirely. Malware in general may slow down your system considerably. You may not know you even have malware on your system. Avoiding Malware A good malware and anti-virus program can help protect you from this, such as Eset NOD32 (residential) or Endpoint Protection (Businesses). Most new computers will come with a 30 trial of an anti-virus program. Remember this only a trial and will expire with 30 days of use. Most users tell me, “it’s only a new computer…how can it be infected”… and the end result is that the trial has expired. Some Precautionary steps:
- Once again, make sure your antivirus software is licensed and up to date.
- Never open attachments in email unless you know who the sender is. Never open unsolicited attachments.
- If the email is not addressed to your name, then don’t open it
- Never open email that says you have “won” a giant prize or that your bank account has been compromised.
- Never open files with EXE, URL, VBE, HLP, LNK or other extensions.
- Watch what files or programs that you download online. Make sure you scan these with anti-virus before you use them. Use trusted sites to download your files and programs.
- Don’t use torrent sites as this is where many malware programs and viruses attach themselves to files and software.
- Use a program that blocks suspected sites when you click on those sites online and warns you about potential threats.
- Don’t click on ads that popup and say your computer is infected by a virus. This is also known as “Ransom-ware”. They tell you that you have “x” amount of infections, look for your credit card details, so the end result is that they infect your PC, charge you for this “privilege”, and then have your credit card no, just in case they need it.
Make sure you back up your system frequently to protect your data in case you’re a victim of malware. There are several types of software we would recommend, such as Backup Assist, or something from the Acronis. At the very least.. is your Windows Backup in place? Scan your system often to look for these programs and then remove them from the system – there is a very good free utility to check and clean from Eset. Here a link to get the Eset Free online scanner. See a computer repair technician if you have problems with malware or viruses. There are a number of other tools you can use such as “Malware Bytes”, “Ad Aware” and “Super Anti Spyware” and “Spybot S&D.” These are trusted providers, and would recommend to try these out. In the meantime, if you cannot remove the infection, please contact us, or seek the assistance of a local PC Repair Centre. In a near future post, I will be putting up a guide on how to remove malware so stay tuned.