What is Malware?

malwareI run my Malware and Virus protection programs once a week and this was the first week in several where nothing was found – and I’m VERY careful when I’m browsing and opening emails. Have YOU run your protection programs lately? You don’t have to spend a ton of money for good protection. Our favorite Malware program is a free download: MalwareBytes. Google it and download it if you don’t have Malware protection. (Be sure to update it when it says it is out of date.)

What is Malware?

Malware is short for malicious software. It is a general term used to describe all of the viruses, worms, spyware, and pretty much anything that is specifically designed to cause harm to your PC or steal your information.

Virus

A virus is a program that copies itself and infects a PC, spreading from one file to another, and then from one PC to another when files are copied or shared. Most viruses attach themselves to executable (.exe) files, but some are a bit more hidden in MS Office macros, scripts and other files. Whether the virus is intended to delete or corrupt files or render your PC completely inoperable, the basic design is to generally cause havoc and break stuff. They usually arrive in your email, so look for suspicious file extensions: a file that has a double extension is HIGHLY suspicious, like .mp3.exe or .pdf.exe

Spyware

Spyware steals your information. It can capture your logins, passwords and credit card information through keylogging. It can also take over your browser and add toolbars, but not always. Since the idea is to steal your information, spyware doesn’t call attention to itself. Things to look for: that extra toolbar that YOU didn’t install and your PC running slow.

Scareware

Scareware is relatively new. It appears to be an antivirus application that tells you that your PC is infected with hundreds of viruses that can only be cleaned up if you pay for the full licensed program. In most cases, you can’t uninstall them or even use your PC. If you find you’re a victim of this new virus, Google the name of the virus and find specific instructions on how to remove it. Most can be removed by reputable malware programs like MalwareBytes that we recommend.

Trojans

Trojans can allow remote control of your PC. It’s worst offense is sending out buckets of email/spam that can overwhelm servers and blacklist your email account. They usually attach themselves to pirated programs that download…beware of CHEAP imitations!

Worms

Worms send copies of itself to other PCs. It spreads very rapidly. The worst ones were sent as attachments to emails. They bog down networks and in some cases can cause your PC to repeatedly reboot itself.

Legitimate Antivirus Programs

WHAT? When is a legitimate antivirus program ever a problem??? When you have more than one! When you update your Adobe Flash Player, there is a prechecked box to download McAfee Security Scan. If you already have another antivirus or security program installed, they can fight with each other and REALLY slow down your PC. So if you use something else, remember to UNCHECK that box and all others like it as you update or download or sign up for anything. Take the time to read all of the offers on the screen before clicking OK.