Malware / Virus FAQ
Malware, Spyware and Viruses FAQ
What is malware and how does it get on my system?
Malware is a catch all term for programs that you do not want on your computer. Such programs become resident in a wide range of methods and they almost always have some type of nefarious purpose. The purpose of any particular piece of malware is normally referred to as the “payload”; like the warhead on a missile.
Some forms of Malware depend on users to unwittingly open an infected e-mail attachment, others may enter your system by way of a security weakness in your system from an infected website that you might visit.
Even very popular websites such as the drudgereport.com have been infected with and acted as a distribution point for spyware in the past. Often a site’s owner is unaware his site has been compromised and is being used to distribute malware.
- Stability problems with your computer, such as: loss of internet access, system freeze ups, partial or complete data loss, or other types of malfunctions
- Potential for your data to be accessed by an unauthorized outside party
- an potentially set you up as a distribution point for spam, such that your office gets “tagged” as a spammer, possibly jeopardizing the stability of your Internet connection.
There is no “complete solution” on how to avoid malware but here are few basic tips that will help you avoid most of it:
- First, run current anti-virus software and make sure automatic security are setup to automatically download and install on your workstations (Windows Updates, Acrobat Updates, and Java Updates). These two simple steps can help avoid most (but not all) Malware infections in the first place.
- Never open email attachments that don’t “look right” to you. Never open any attachment from a person or company that you do not know. Also, if an email looks odd to you, even from someone that you do know, call that person and ask if they sent it to you.
- Never agree to install anything from a pop-up message on the Internet –unless it is from a trusted site, for a program that you know you wish to install.
- Use an Internet access filtration service at your home or office, cloud based filtration services are best. Check out www.opendns.com for one possible option, especially the free level of their service.
- Google the terms “how to avoid malware” and become an expert!
Malware can be difficult to remove but there are a wide range of specialized removal tools along with an active “community” on the Internet that helps research and document removal methods for each type of Malware as it comes out.
Here are a few facts and caveats about Malware removal:
- New Malware comes out all the time and there is often a period of time where the exact steps necessary to remove a new piece of Malware are unknown. We can sometimes still remove new Malware using basic removal steps that are rather universal in nature but it can be an inexact and time consuming process.
- Some Malware is designed to present an initial impression that it has been removed successfully, only to return after a period of time – sometimes several days.
- Some Malware damages the software programming on a computer to an extent that a machine may need to be reloaded. Reloading a machine is a time consuming, expensive and disruptive process. A full reload normally involves:
- Backing up your data
- Blanking out your computer’s storage space
- Reloading your operating system and programs
- All told, the above can take several hours to complete, potentially costing more than it would cost to replace your computer!