Malware Information Guide
‘Malware‘ is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. It can take the form of executable code, scripts, active content, and other software.
About This Guide
Removing malware is an ever-changing process. As protection strategies evolve, and removal tools are adapted, the ‘bad guys’ respond with creative measures to protect their products. This page provides information that will help you to understand the complexities of dealing with malware, and how to fight back.
What’s the driving force behind malware producers and distributors? Monetizing victimized computers. In the pioneering days of computing, talented enthusiasts generally created destructive malware. Code that would delete data, or even damage hardware.
Today, malware aspires to subvert your equipment into generating a revenue-stream. Malware creators cash in on forced advertising, Bitcoin mining, botnet rentals, ransoming your data, or simply liberating your online banking credentials.
All About Malware
The Sophos Threatsaurus enumerates and describes the pitfalls littered throughout the Internet landscape. A harrowing assortment of nastiness that you and your computer must negotiate every day.
Protecting Against Malware
Protecting your computer might seem simple… Install an anti-virus program, right? Unfortunately not. While some threats may be detected and avoided, recently created or modified malware can slip through between the anti-virus updates.
Some anti-virus/anti-malware products are less effective than others. Free versions of a protection product are understandably less effective that the full version you’ll have to pay for. Other products sometimes offer little protection at all.
Some malware may never be detected. It may be a program that you’ve elected to install, or were fooled into accepting in an email, or acquired by innocently visiting a reputable, but compromised, Website.
An appreciable amount of malware simply takes advantage of unintentional vulnerabilities within programs installed on your computer. Often, but not always, updates and patches are made available to correct the exploitable code.
The symptoms of malware are starkly visible. A once peppy computer PC now chugs along unresponsively. Steady hard-disk activity, even when not working on the machine. Alarming messages of security threats, and offers to help you resolve them – by installing an application, or calling a toll-free support number. Inexplicable changes to your Web browser home page, or search engine. And often, a noticeable increase in the quantity of advertising you’re exposed to.
Malware can be implicated by an installed anti-virus program, or checking online for matches to the symptoms your PC is exhibiting. Sometimes a friend will alert you that your email program is sending out spam, or that an attachment in your email has triggered a malware alert for the recipient.
Recognizing a bit of malware is the first step in removing it. Looking for information on how to do that typically involves a Google search, and will often lead you to online traps.
Malware distributors create numerous fake ‘tech-sites’ that pretend to offer support for eradicating the threat you’ve identified. Often, the language used on the site is stilted, and the name of the malware is repeated many times to afford the page better search-engine results.
The names of the sites are usually an awkward combination of tech sounding wording. While the gist of the page is generally emphatic and encouraging, the ‘manual’ solution the site describes will be complicated, unfamiliar, and discouraging. This is by design, because at some point, you will be advised that there is a simple and easy downloadable ‘fix’ available.
Of course, the ‘fix’ is actually additional malware that you will be installing on your already infected machine. Some of these solutions immediately begin displaying pop-ups touting a paid solution that will resolve what you just installed.
Other versions of the scam offer over-the-phone, or remote-support help to solve the problem. Of course, there will be a credit card involved. The worst offenders initiate unsolicited cold-calls informing computer owners that malware has been detected on their PC. The caller typically suggests they are associated with Microsoft. Occasionally, such bogus companies are taken to court over the scam.
Legit Support Sources
Finding legitimate sources of support for your computer isn’t rocket-science. Don’t settle for a single opinion to solving the problem you’re dealing with. There are many authoritative tech sites that can provide a real solution to your malware issue.
Also be aware that genuine anti-malware and malware-removal software can be modified, and then made available at malicious sites. Use due diligence to ensure you are obtaining software that hasn’t been tampered with.
For trustworthy hands-on or remote-support service, ask a friend or co-worker for a recommendation, and do a little homework before making a decision.
Malware Removal Tools
There are boatloads of software that claim to remove malware. And like any other product, there’s a continuum of efficiency. Price is not the measure to judge anti-malware utilities.
Windows Diagnostic Tools
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