An intro to viruses and malware

Published: July 25, 2017

We live in a digital age where cyber-savvy citizens can avoid a lot of heartache by following a few precautions. Learn about cyber attack warning signs that come with viruses and malware, with some tips to keep you out of trouble.

Do you suspect that you’re being targeted by a cyber attack?

Here’s a few of the common signs:

  • I’m in slowmo: Is your tech running slower than usual? Now we’re not talking about an old computer per ce but maybe it’s simply unresponsive. It freezes up, programs crash, files won’t open and the system reboots for no reason.
  • Message in a bottle: Some menus or dialogue boxes look odd or distorted. In some cases you can’t access your disk drives or hard drive and there are ugly error messages.
  • It’s a pop-up shop: A crazy number of strange pop-up windows like ads start appearing out of thin air, making it almost impossible to use the computer.
  • Missing in action: Files and directories go missing, especially library files for running programs and games. Your computer’s operating system and registry could be compromised at this point.
  • Put out the fire: Your firewall warns you that unknown applications are trying to connect to the internet. But maybe you’re also prevented from downloading anti-virus or any other software. Your anti-virus software might be disabled, a clear sign of danger.

Virus, malware or spyware – what’s the difference?

Viruses are known as worms or trojans that slip through an unprotected backdoor in your security. These pranksters can wreak havoc on your operating system and wipe out data, rendering your computer useless.

They’re bad for business in general, grinding your work to a halt. It’s made worse if they replicate to other devices that are connected through a network.

Malware is a wide term. It takes the form of a tracking cookie that spams you with targeted advertising – the malicious kind that’s unwanted and very annoying. But it can also take the form of a keylogger, recording every keystroke typed on a computer including personal details, banking numbers and passwords.

Spyware is less severe malware. It mainly applies to basic tracking cookies.

Stranger danger – keeping yourself out of harm’s way

It’s always best to play it safe to avoid any hiccups in the future:

  • File away for future: Pay attention to what you’re downloading and where from. You want to avoid rushing into downloading software from random websites. Be wary of trusting files from free USB sticks at conferences and expos.
  • Take out the trash: Don’t open emails from unrecognised sources. Send it to the junk mail or trash folder when in doubt. Watch out for email attachments, even if they look as harmless as a PDF. Learn more about dodgy emails and scams that may come your way.
  • Get with the times: Invest in a well known and highly regarded anti virus program. The more modern the better, but make sure all your other software versions are current too. Some updates are downloaded automatically and for others it’s a manual process.
  • I need back up: Make regular back-ups of your data, in case you need to recover it later. Learn more about different data backup options. Hopefully when your computer is attacked you won’t need to reformat the computer, because anything you haven’t backed up properly could be gone forever!

Do you think you’ve been stung with a virus, malware or spyware? Our computer specialists have the cure and are just a phone call away. Get in touch with us.

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