Malware is something of which all computer users have a vague notion. This is simply a blanket term for malicious software and there are several common types of malware that are infecting computer systems around the world.
A virus is a type of malware that most computer users have heard about and probably have had end up on their computer. This is a bit of code that replicates and attaches to file, programs or your hard drive. You can get a virus from a corrupted email link, from clicking on a pop-up ad or from downloading software from the Internet. Viruses can slow down the speed of your computer, corrupt files, steal space from your hard drive or harm programs installed on your computer.
A worm is another type of malware and like a virus it can replicate itself, but it doesn’t have to attach to anything in order to replicate. With a virus, you have to activate and executable file in order to download the virus. So if you open an email, but don’t click on or run the file you won’t get the virus. Worms can spread without an executable file. Worms have been used to crash Web servers and computer networks as well as to gain control of a computer remotely.
Surprisingly, viruses and worms are not the most common type of malware out there. The Trojan horse accounts for nearly 70% of malware. A Trojan is similar to a virus in that this too is a string of malicious code, but a Trojan does not self-replicate. Instead it carries out a specific action, which is determined by the person who wrote the code. It’s called a Trojan horse because it is usually disguised as something useful or fun, such as computer game. You download the game, but what you are really receiving is malware. Some malware creators use Trojan horses as backdoors into a computer system. Once the backdoor is open, they can access your system and steal crucial data, passwords, financial information and more.
Spyware is yet another type of commonly seen malware. This is a type of software that gathers up information about you or a company or a computer network without anyone’s knowledge. A Trojan horse can be a type of spyware. Spyware doesn’t replicate and isn’t set up to destroy or corrupt your files, but instead seeks to gain information about you, such as your browsing history, your credit card numbers and other personal information for identity theft. The recent cyber-attack on Target is an example of how dangerous spyware can be.
In order to prevent malware attacks on your own computer or computer network, it’s best to construct a good defensive plan. For instance, never download something from the Internet unless you trust the source and have run the file through your anti-virus software. If you see one of those ominous pop-ups that claim your computer has a virus or your files have been corrupted, open up your task manager and shut down the pop-up. These are scam ads designed specifically to download viruses or Trojans to your computer and they are not coming from your anti-virus software.
Your email is a hotbed of virus activity as well, so be careful what you click on. Virus emails often come from a source not listed in your contact. Often our spam filter will catch the email, but not always, so if you see an odd-looking sender, chances are it’s someone trying to infect your computer. However, our friends and our contacts sometimes accidentally download a virus and the virus immediately replicates and sends itself to you via email. If a contact sends you a link that seems odd, maybe it has a weird subject line or perhaps no subject or the text of the email is odd and asks you to click on a link, it’s almost always a scam. If you don’t click on the link, you won’t get the virus, so just delete the email.
It’s also wise to install anti-virus software, preferably with a firewall. You only need one anti-virus program for your computer. You won’t be better protected if you have two or three virus programs, just research the software available and select one with top reviews. Be sure to allow the program to make updates, as these updates increase your overall level of security. In general, all updates help increase security, so when Firefox or Explorer asks you to make an update, this will help make you a more secure Internet user.
If your computer is already corrupted, simply contact GeeksAKnockin today and we can set up a time to come out and remove all the malicious software on your computer or network. Not only will we remove the malware, we will perform a comprehensive audit of your computer or network to find areas of vulnerability. This can help you prevent malware infection in the future. We also evaluate your computer to verify that it is performing normally and that security patches have been installed.