Knowledge is the Key
Until law enforcement and governments globally begin taking the threat of malware and spyware seriously and take proactive steps to bring the creators and distributors of these nuisances some serious penalties knowledge will be our only real defense.
Beyond the obvious implications of knowing how to combat these bugs, you need to know why they exist and what they are after. This simple information will save you time and money. So let’s make it simple. Remember the following information:
ALL VIRUSES, SPYWARE, and MALWARE (with very few exceptions) ARE AFTER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
- Money $$$
- Data (Because your data is money)
That’s right; ultimately it’s a war for your information or cold hard cash. In most cases if they are after your information it is so in the end they get access to your cash. Now we have in brackets the words, with very few exceptions. The reason that is there is because some people create these bugs just to cause havoc or to see if it can be done. The old saying about idle hands certainly is applicable here . . . .
Before we begin telling you how to spot and get rid of malware, spyware, and viruses we need to show you how to use something known as the “Task Manager”. Task Manager is a built in tool in nearly all of Microsoft’s operating systems. Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 all come with Task Manager handy within the push of three buttons or two clicks.
As we mentioned knowledge is the key here, you need to know what are legitimate messages and what is not. The rule of thumb here is: IF THE MESSAGE DOES NOT COME FROM SOFTWARE ALREADY LOADED ON YOUR MACHINE DO NOT CLICK ON IT AT ALL.
Now here is where the knowledge part kicks in and where your responsibility takes over. It is your job to know what software, I.E. programs are installed on your computer. Specifically your anti-virus and anti-malware (if installed). If you know what software is installed then you are a leg up on counter acting any false alarms trying to get you to install their bogus software.
For example: Lets say you have Norton installed on your PC and you receive a pop up telling you that you have a virus on your computer from something called System Security. This is obviously a false alarm as there is no version of Windows that comes with built in virus software from Microsoft. All anti-virus software is installed after the fact or included with your PC when you purchased it as a bundled software (usually trial software). In either case the warning message you would get wouldn’t be from the system, rather from your specific software. It would say Norton, or McAffee etc.
Your responsibility is to take a good look at the message in front of you and ask; Is this legitimate? If you smell a fish, then you likely have a bogus message on your screen. If you want to be sure, use our method shown below to close down your internet browser and then manually tell your anti-virus software to run a full scan of your PC. We additionally suggest using one or more of the software we suggest below to check your PC as these tools are specifically designed to detect and remove this kind of pesky software where anti-virus software doesn’t always do a good job. These tools are:
- Malwarebytes (Personal Favorite and One Stop Bug Kill Shop)
- HitMan Pro (another excellent software that actually runs five different engines at once)
The truth is that sometimes you are aware that you went to a questionable site that may have been where you got the virus/malware/spyware from. If this is the case then re-visiting that site is probably not a good idea. In my 15 years of working on computers I have found that when the computer in question is a workplace PC then the people that rarely have problems are those that stick to doing actual work on their computers. Again the concept of idle hands comes into play. I have been in support of businesses ranging from small and medium businesses to enterprises and higher education and have found in my walk through the halls that those people with PC’s tuned into Myspace, Facebook, and AOL tend to be the problematic ones. These sites may not themselves be issues but the links found therein often lead to other pages that do become problems.
The Golden Rule of Downloads:
If you absolutely must download that picture, attachment, power point show, excel document, etc. then the golden rule of downloads should be kept in mind.
ALL DOWNLOADED FILES SHOULD BE SCANNED WITH AN UPDATED VIRUS SCANNER BEFORE BEING RUN OR OPENED, NO EXCEPTIONS.
This means that file sent to you by your husband, boyfriend, friend, uncle, etc falls into this rule. Once anything has been downloaded do not run or double click it until it has been scanned. Most good virus scanners give you the option to right click and scan the file. If yours doesn’t then you can still run your virus scanner and then tell it to scan a particular folder or directory. If it comes back clean then odds are it is ok, but if double clicking results in a prompt to install something then your response should be a resounding NO.
Alright what is next?
So you’re saying right now “If I can’t click on it then what do I do?” Good question. Now let’s get you a simple answer.