Malware (malicious software) is software that invades your computer and if left untreated will cause all sorts of problems. Types of malware include trojans, viruses, adware and worms. The difference between malware and harmful software is that the latter has defects that are unintentional while the former is meant to harm your computer. Initially malware was created simply as a prank, today however the purpose of it is more sinister as it is used to steal personal information from users. Bank, credit card numbers and other personal information can be stolen from the user. There are other reasons for malware such as to gather information from corporate and government websites. One thing’s for sure, malware is a nasty problem but there are ways to avoid it and there are ways of getting rid of it if your computer is infected.
If you believe that your computer has been affected by malware, don’t panic, because there are ways of combating the problem. The following steps should set you on the right track to a malware free computer:
- Be careful what you download. Check the source carefully and if in doubt leave well alone.
- If a website looks suspicious then it probably is. Pops ups are a good sign that there is something not quite right.
- Before using someone else’s USB drive or other device in your computer make sure that it doesn’t contain any harmful viruses. If you’re not sure then scan the device with security software.
- Set up a firewall as this will help detect the presence of malware.
Another potential place where a malware threat can be found is from software downloaded from the internet. Malware is quite often installed onto a computer as part of the software installation process. Again, make sure that the software is safe to download by doing a bit of research on the internet. Other people might have had a bad experience with the same software and if that’s the case then it’s better to find out before installing it yourself. Avoid downloading software from unknown websites. A program might seem legit but it could be hiding a nasty malware threat.
If you notice that your computer is acting differently then it could be a sign of a malware infection. Thankfully there are ways of removing such a threat with the use of antivirus software. Such software works by providing real time protection for your computer. Windows Defender is a good place to start as it will help determine whether or not your computer is infected. Install an anti-virus program to help remove any harmful viruses. Remember to keep it updated and to set it up so that it will scan your computer regularly.
If the malware is preventing you from getting on line then you could use a friend’s computer to download antivirus software and then transfer it to your own. Alternatively, try going into safe mode (press F8 on the start-up screen) open internet explorer, click on connections tab, LAN settings button and then disable the proxy server. You should be able to get online to find a malware removal tool.
Written by Matt Higgins, an internet security blogger.