What is Malware and how can I protect against it?

Are you experiencing unexpected pop-ups, browser locks, or is your search engine something you didn’t install and can’t get rid of? Chances are you have malware. So, what exactly is malware? According to Wikipedia, “Malware is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network. A wide variety of types of malware exist, including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and scareware.”

What is the purpose of malware?

Simply put, the purpose of malware is to extract money from its victims.

How does malware extract money from it’s victims?

The following example illustrates most common type of malware; pop-up windows.

After the malware has been successfully downloaded onto your computer, you may notice random pop-up windows claiming to be Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any other reputable company stating that your computer is infected and that you should call their tech support to have it removed. If you call this number, you will speak to someone pretending to be from one of these companies, but in fact it will be the scammers themselves that you’ll be speaking with. They will then try to coerce you into paying a fee to have the malware removed.

How was my computer infected by malware?

Here’s a list of the most common ways malware may have been added to your computer:

  • Visiting hacked websites
  • Downloading infected plug-ins
  • Downloading infected music, pictures, of movie files
  • Installing new toolbars from unknown providers
  • Downloading and installing free software from untrusted sources
  • Opening an attachment or a link on a “phishing” email.  You will often receive emails from people claiming to be from someone know or some institution that you are client of, asking you to open an attachment or a link to deal with some important matter. Sometimes the email address that it is sent from is a clue because it is obviously different from the purported sender. But other times the sender may have hacked an email from someone you know so it looks less suspicious.  If in doubt contact the sender be some other means before opening.

How do I get rid of malware?

There are several programs claiming to be efficient at removing malware and protecting your computer. From our experience, these programs are often ineffective at removing the malware. Since malware is something that was accidentally downloaded onto your computer, it is almost impossible to have a program that protects you at all times. The most effective way to have malware removed is by taking your computer to a professional service provider.

At Midtown Tech we always take the time help you make an informed decision. 

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