Computer Virus - 90% Cleaned up remotely and in under an hour.
One of the largest problems that you face using a computer is the risk of being infected by a computer virus or malicious program that could destroy your personal data, steal passwords and worse. Viruses are malicious software programs designed that ultimately have one purpose that is, to give you a bad day.
Once your computer is infected a virus can self replicate and copy itself anywhere on the computer - including programs you use - such as your email client, web browser or spreadsheet software.
The first line of defense for preventing your computer becoming infected by a virus is a solid antivirus product. The second is a good education on the most common methods an infection can take place.
What Is A Virus?
The term virus, while uniquely referring to a specific type of computer infection, is thrown around as an umbrella term, mostly by non technical folk, to encompass pretty much any of the following: malware, adware, spyware, spamware, and of course, virus'. It is generally considered acceptable to do this informally as everyone knows what is meant and the end result is still the same. Remove it!
A virus is a program that is capable of self replication, allowing it to infect (copy itself to) other programs or files on the computer and other computers via delivery methods such as email. It is this self replication feature, for which, the term virus was coined.
It is not the case that all virus' cause damage or other bad things to your computer, for example, the first virus create c.1982 copied itself to any floppy disks (that's how it spread pre-internet) that were put in the computer and also displayed a short poem on every 50th boot.
However, not everyone is so kind as to create a virus and simply copy itself - the reality is that nearly all cases of a virus infection will cause undesirable effects upon your computer -- you may have read, recently, about the STUXNET virus that targeted Iran's nuclear program.
Adware - as you might guess from the name refers to a type of infection that is geared towards presenting advertisements to you intrusively or otherwise. The most common features of Adware are the ability to change your web browser's homepage, display false search results or open popup windows to websites, 99.9% of the time, selling some kind of 'snake oil'. - It is worth noting that some programs you may use are advert supported and insist on installing a form of adware for you to be able to continue using the original product. When this type of adware is removed the host program may no longer function correctly.
Spyware is distributed, mostly, but not always, by market research companies, although try getting one to admit it. Spyware has the ability to monitor everything you do on your computer. The data it collects is usually sent to the creators servers for processing. The data that this kind of infection collects varies wildly from your web browsing habits, copying your emails or anything else you might do on your computer. This type of infection can collect personally identifiable information such as your name, address, phone number, passwords, friends or a good chunk of your life?
When you're infected with scareware, you know about it. This type of infection usually very obtrusive and masquerades itself as some kind of 'antivirus' product, performing fake scans of your computer and displaying false results claiming that it can remove infections or fix errors (that do not actually exist). Of course after your summary of fake results you just have to pay a nominal fee and all is seemingly well again. This is a clear and direct scam; make sure not to fall for it.
A worm is known for its ability to spread throughout a network. When a machine becomes infected the worm will scan the network it is attached to for other computers that are exploitable by weaknesses in running software that have not yet been updated. Worms can carry what are known as 'payloads' which can be act like any other form of malware.
Finally, Malware. MALfunction, MALpractice, MALnourish, MALice...Yep, you guessed it this stuff is classified as bad. What bad things it can do to your computer remains with the sinister imagination of the mind that creates it. Any of the above terms can be considered a form of malware.
What Can They Do?
The number one case for suspecting an infection on your computer is a sudden case of sluggish and unresponsive performance. This is the infection using your computer's resources; processor, memory...for all kinds of purposes. When you need to work, or play, and your computer is not responding properly be aware.
Here's a quick list of the most common things an infection might do.
- Slow down your computer
- Send emails (with copies of itself), indiscriminately, to everyone on your contact list
- Monitor your activity on the computer
- Steal Data - Under the data protection act this could make you liable!
- Steal your identity - identity theft is a real threat
- Steal your bank details
- Corrupt your data - Even if you backup (which you should always do -- see our data backup services if not.) the infection can be backed up too!
And the list could go on, but I am sure you get the idea.
What To Do If You Suspect An Infection
The first thing to do if you suspect an infection on your machine is call Microbytes. We cannot accredit anyone else as we can only confirm that our own engineer practices guarantee that the infection is completely removed. Most infections can be removed in under an hour using our remote support tool to allow us access.
What Is The Best Antivirus Product
There is no doubt whatsoever that if you are using a Microsoft Windows platform then you need an antivirus, period. The difficulty is choosing which one to go for. We do not have any affiliate schemes or partner with antivirus developers which means we can tell you straight that some of the free products are just as good as the commercial and usually bear a significantly lighter load on your computer. Microbytes recommend Microsoft Security Essentials as a lightweight and effective antivirus product, which is completely free for up-to 10 computers in your business or organisation
I had 'xyz' antivirus and I still got an infection
When you choose an antivirus product you must consider the fact that the company developing it has a finite amount of resources to dedicate to the detection of new threats. Antivirus developers, too, are not all playing from the same song sheet while one developer might be have detected and updated their antivirus to cover some new releases, another developer might have updated their antivirus to cover infections the other company missed. As a good rule of thumb it is necessary to consider your antivirus product as being a part of the solution and not a guaranteed safety net.