Troubleshooting, Tuneup your PC/Computer

BestTech247’s Guide To Viruses, Malware, Trojans And Other Nasty Stuff!

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If you’ve used a computer for more than a few months, you’ve probably picked up the fact that there are lots of nasty things out there that have it in for your computer, and more importantly for you. This article will tell you about the various dangers out there, and more importantly, how to protect yourself from them. Computer repairs of a malware infected machine can be quite daunting, and you want to avoid having to remove a virus as much as possible.

I’m confused – what do all these terms mean?

The term malware refers to malicious software that is designed to secretly access your computer without your consent. Once this software has access to your computer, it can do a variety of things. Once you are infected, computer repairs can be very difficult. You can remove a virus if you are persistent and willing to do some hard work – but it is easier to avoid it in the first place.

Malware comes in many flavors:

  • Viruses - These are programs that when run, have the ability to self-replicate by infecting other programs and files on your computer. These programs can have many effects ranging from wiping your hard drive, displaying a joke in a small box, or doing nothing at all except to replicate itself. These types of infections tend to be localized to your computer and not have the ability to spread to another computer on their own. The word virus has incorrectly become a general term that encompasses trojans, worms, and viruses.
  • Spyware – These are programs that monitor your activity or information on your computer and send that information to a remote computer without your knowledge. This could include information about your surfing habits, or even your bank account details!
  • Worm – A program that when run, has the ability to spread to other computers on its own using either mass-mailing techniques to email addresses found on your computer or by using the Internet to infect a remote computer using known security holes.
  • Trojan – A program that has been designed to appear innocent but has been intentionally designed to cause some malicious activity or to provide a backdoor to your system.
  • Hijackers – A program that attempts to hijack certain Internet functions like redirecting your start page to the hijacker’s own start page, redirecting search queries to a undesired search engine, or replace search results from popular search engines with their own information.
  • Adware – A program that generates pop-ups on your computer or displays advertisements. It is important to note that not all adware programs are necessarily considered malware. There are many legitimate programs that are given for free that display ads in their programs in order to generate revenue. As long as this information is provided up front then they are generally not considered malware.

So how do I protect myself from malware?

Prevention is always better than the cure. You don’t really want to try doing computer repairs for malware. So it’s a good idea to make sure that you are informed about the best ways to keep yourself safe from malware.

Here are a few simple rules.

1. Educate yourself about what you should and should not view on the internet.

The majority of people who were infected with malware were infected due to a lack of knowledge and clicking on things they should not. Here’s some things you should never do:

  • Never open attachments from someone that you do not know. Especially from spam emails
  • Never open attachments that end with the extension .exe, .com, .bat or .pif.
  • If you visit a site and a popup appears saying that your computer is unsafe, ignore it! These are gimicks that are used to make you click on the ad which then can potentially install unwanted malware.
  • When a you go to a site and a popup occurs, many times they will make them look like a normal Windows message box in order to trick you into clicking on them. Instead just close them by clicking on the X.
  • Do not visit porn sites, warez sites, or crack sites. These are almost always a surefire way to get yourself infected
  • If you use P2P software, make sure you are careful about what you open. Malware is all over the P2P networks.
  • Read the license agreement for any software that you install. Many free downloads are offered with spyware and other programs that you DO NOT want on your computer. Reading the agreement may help you to spot them.

2. Use Antivirus software

It is very important that you have antivirus software running on your machine. This software will monitor all files that you try and access, including programs, attachments in emails and will alert you if they are suspicious. Don’t forget to update the software frequently. Most have an automatic update feature, by which they will periodically check the Internet for updates and update themselves.

There are plenty of excellent solutions out there, including free ones like Avira, AVG, Avast and commercial paid ones like McAfee and Norton.

3. Run an Anti spyware program

Just as you installed and use an antivirus program, it is essential these days to use a Spyware protection and removal program. These programs can be used to scan your computer for spyware, dialer s, browser hijackers, and other programs that are malicious in nature. If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7, Windows Defender comes per-installed – just make sure that you are running it. Else you can download it from Microsoft’s site here.

4. Keep your operating system up to date

Your operating system provider (Microsoft, Apple, etc) will periodically issue patches that you should deploy on your computer. These will contain the latest protection in the operating system. Windows users can go to Windows Update, while Mac users can go to the Apple Security Site

5. Make sure that you are running a firewall

If you are running Windows8, Vista or Windows 7 or Windows XP Service Pack 2 or beyond, your firewall is enabled by default. If not, make sure that you enable this.

Oh no, I’ve been infected. What do I do now? Contact, BestTech247.Com.

Above we defined the various types of malware that are out there waiting to get you when you least expect it. “So that’s great, I now know all about malware”, I hear you say.. “but what the heck do I do about it if I’m infected?”.

Never fear, help is here. Removing viruses or cleaning malware from your computer is never an easy task, but there are some standard steps that you can take before you need to get in professional help. Please note that the steps described below are what we feel the average computer owner can do. Advanced techs have far more tools at their disposal.

Also please note that the advice here is simply that: advice. There is a chance that you could make things worse. If you are not sure – get someone who knows what they are doing to help you out!

Step 1: CCleaner.

CCleaner is a great tool that will clean out your PC. Download this (by clicking here) and install. Run it with the default options. If it finds anything that it recommends cleaning out, do so. Repeat this for each account that you have on your PC (ie: log out, log in as each other account, and re-run CCleaner).

Step 2: Malwarebytes

MalwareBytes is another free tool that will scan your PC for known malware and clean it out. Download this (click here) and install, and then run with default options. Once again, just like with CCleaner, clean out whatever Malwarebytes recommends.

Step 3: Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

Microsoft have a tool that checks for malware. Download it here and run it.

Step 4: Update your system

Go to Windows Update and make sure that your system is running with the latest of all patches.

Did it work?

Hopefully your system is now free of malware. But it’s quite possible that this was not the case. There are more advanced guides out there online, but please be aware that a lot of them require you to have good technical know-how in order to follow those guides. If you aren’t sure what you are doing – you could make things much much worse. If you’re not sure – you would probably be better off calling someone for help.

Don Davis

Web Developer and Senior Technician at Technical Support Today
Sagar is a Senior Technician and webdeveloper with Technical Support Today. He specialize in PHP and Open Source programming, HTML5, CSS, Javascript and web standards. When not programming or managing developements, he contribute in TST Blog.
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