WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE MALWARE
Removing malware can be extremely difficult. Malware, by design, will try to make itself almost impossible to remove. The only guaranteed way to remove malware is to reformat your computer and reinstall – which will delete all of your files. This is a reason why backing up your data is crucial. Hard drive reformatting is a stressful enterprise without a good backup, but a minor time annoyance otherwise.
In addition to restoring your computer or device to a previous state – you should change your passwords.
How do I protect myself against malware?
TYPES OF MALWARE
Adware presents itself in the form of unwarranted advertisements targeted at the user. Often in the form of unclosable windows or browser toolbars. Some instances of adware are just harmless advertising, but others can damage your computer and steal information. Avoid clicking adware, and be extremely vigilant when installing software because many times it comes bundled with adware. It is always a safe idea to select “advanced installation” and un-check any boxes that add additional software during the installation.
Spyware records activity on your computers and transmits the data elsewhere. This can include information such as your login information (passwords), browser history, keystrokes, and potentially other harmful information. Additionally, it can also modify security and other network settings. Spyware is great at remaining hidden and avoiding virus-scanning software, which means you could be infected without even realizing it.
Trojan Horses trick users into installing malicious software. They are able to mimic software you intend to install, but instead gain access to your computer and can steal information or give access to other cyber criminals.
Viruses are malicious programs that will attempt to spread from machine to machine. They can attach themselves to files and programs shared between computers in order to infect as many machines as possible.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. If your computer becomes infected, your data will be held at ransom, for example your entire photo library. Often the payment will be sent through an anonymous source such as bitcoin so that the criminal cannot be tracked. A timeframe is typically given otherwise the computer’s files will be deleted. Periodically back up your data in a different location so that if you do become infected with ransomware, you can reformat and restore your data manually from a backup.
Worms are spread through networks, finding security vulnerabilities in programs and operating systems to infect machines. They can damage your computer, steal or delete information, and install bots.
Rootkits allow access to sensitive files that usually are not modified by computer users – at least not directly. Rootkits can include viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. These programs will modify the computer, steal personal information, execute malicious files, and potentially create bots. Rootkits, unlike adware and ransomware, will typically attempt to stay hidden from the user.