What is Malware?

Malware is a term coined from ‘malicious software’ and describes any form of unwanted program which is installed without your consent. This includes many types of viruses, worms and Trojan horses, as well as rootkits, spyware, keyloggers and adware.

Many programmers create malware as a simple prank, experiment or organised internet crime. Unfortunately, malicious software is on the rise due to the increase in new forms and the high amounts of money which can be illegally made. Adware (forced advertising) and spyware (stealing sensitive information) are just some of the methods where considerable money is made from attacking vulnerable computers.

How Can I Prevent Malware?

Many computers are prone to malware due to defects in their operating system design. Having all your computers on a network which is run on the same Windows operating system can also make PCs more vulnerable.

A high quality anti-virus system is essential, but you should still remain cautious when downloading and installing software you are not familiar with and do not trust. Ensure your colleagues are extra careful when opening email attachments and steer clear of suspicious websites.

When downloading from any website, make sure you research the software before installing. It’s important you approach emails from people you don’t know with caution – if you are unsure on what you are being asked to install, don’t do it.

Pop-up windows will often employ scare tactics to make you believe you need the free scan they are offering. Make sure you close these without clicking anything inside the box (press Ctrl-Alt-Delete).

When you do come to install a new piece of software, read each message box carefully before clicking ‘next’, ‘ok’ or ‘I agree’. If you are uncertain of anything in the agreement, cancel and do your research first. Although this may seem a nuisance, the time you’ll save from a malware headache is well worth it.

You can strengthen your computer’s defences by keeping software up-to-date, using strong unique passwords and always keeping your firewall switched on.

How Do I Remove Malware?

No matter how careful we are, there’s a good chance our computers will become infected at some point. Towards the end of 2010, there were around 14 million unique malware programmes, and the problem is continuing to grow.

Computers with malware are generally unusually slow and often crash and stop responding on a regular basis. If you think your PC is infected, make sure you are disconnected from the internet to stop the malware from spreading. Next, boot your computer into the ‘Safe Mode’ so that only the minimum required amount of programmes and services are loaded.  Before running a virus scan, delete any temporary files – this will speed up the scanning and remove some of the malware. Finally, download a specialist malware scanner and wait for it to work its magic.

If you’re unsure on whether your PC is infected or would like more advice and information, contact our friendly London based team today. As specialists in business IT support and services, we provide expert help.