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Malware and how to stop it February 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet Safety.
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Malware as many PC owners know to their cost is all too commonplace on the web lately even more so than the standard virus. The purpose of this article is to explain to you the concept of Malware, the various types of Malware and what to do when your PC gets infected by it.

What is Malware?
Malware is a malicious piece of software designed to damage your pc or spy on your computer activities without you knowing about it. What follows is a list of common types of Malware and their descriptions.

Adware.
Adware is one of the less harmful forms of Malware which will display a popup advertisement on your computer when your not expecting it.

Virus.
A virus is designed to hide within other executable software and to become active when the host software is activated. Then making many copies of itself will place these within other files or software. When this happens it can cause a rapid infestation of your computer system with catastrophic results.

The Worm.
A Worm is a self replicating and self executing virus specifically designed to send replicas of itself to other computers over the internet.

Ransom Ware.
Ransom ware is used to extort money from the computer owner by locking up important files on your computer. It will then display a message demanding a certain sum of money to get these files unlocked.

Trojan Horses.
A Trojan Horse as the name suggests is disguised as or sometimes hidden inside other legitimate software. Common ways to get infected by them are from downloading various forms of free software from the internet.

Spyware.
Spyware is designed to monitor and record all of your keyboard actions, internet activity and personal details such as credit card details and passwords sending them via the internet to the Spyware maker using email.

What are the symptoms?.
One of the first signs of infection is a marked reduction in speed and performance of your PC, sometimes even appearing to pause or hang. Another is that windows will behave erratically and unstable. You may experience popup windows when you don’t expect. If you have a good antivirus program it should let you know of the presence of Malware and offer to remove it for you.

How Does my Computer Get Infected?

Emails.
Malware can often be sent to you concealed in or attached to an email, so make sure you scan emails with antivirus software and if you have any doubts don’t open it.

Websites.
Browsing some websites that are suspect can lead to infection because the malware can be hidden as code in the web page itself.

Peer to Peer File Sharing Software.
Peer to peer software used to download illegal music, video and software is a Malware creators dream. A lot of the files available on peer to peer networks have Malware hidden within them or are not the files you were expecting at all.

Popups.
Malware can often infect your computer through popups or IP popups. IP popups are sent direct to your computers IP address and can not be stopped by popup blockers. These popups are usually disguised as windows error messages asking you to ‘click here’ to remedy the error. Clicking the button will execute the Malware.

Instant Messaging Software.
Increasingly popular these days instant messaging software can put you at risk if you don’t excercise caution. Infection usually happens when sharing files with people so be careful who you share files with.

Networks.
Computers on a network can all get infected from one computer as data is passed from computer to computer on the network. For that reason all network computers must be protected by antivirus software and a firewall.

Making your computer immune to Malware.

Use Internet Securities Software.
I advise all computer users to invest in good quality internet securities software from companies such as Semantec and McAfee. It is not advisable to use free antivirus software as these don’t tend to be as effective and can also be Malware disguised as antivirus software. Whichever one you use just make sure that you keep it regularly updated and remember to renew your yearly subscription. If your software is out of date you will not be protected against the latest viruses.

Use a firewall.
Windows XP and Vista both have a firewall built in and you should have them switched on. If you have a good internet securities program this will have a firewall included which should be used in favour of the Microsoft version.

Update Windows regularly.
You should use windows update on a regular basis to ensure that you have all the latest critical updates. Microsoft are releasing patches all the time to close up security holes in their operating systems.

How to remove Malware from your computer.
All antivirus and internet securities software will be equipped to remove Malware easily. It is even possible to set your software to remove the affending item automaticlay and then inform you that the job has been done.

A word of caution.
Visiting illegal or immoral websites will increase your likely hood of becoming infected considerably as these sites tend to be set up and frequented by people who have no scruples and will think nothing of infecting your computer along with many others.

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