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Protection from Viruses, Malware, and Spyware
All of us hear the terms - Virus, Malware, Rootkit, Spyware, Ransomeware or Worm. We know they are bad for our computers but may not always sure how to always keep our system protected from them. Many computer problems today come from malicious computer viruses, malware or spyware that compromise your system or slow down performance. Your system can be infected just by merely being connected to the internet or from visiting a single infectious web page, leaving your computer vulnerable to further infection and putting your personal information, financial data, passwords, and files at risk. Any time you are infected, there is a chance your files or personal data can be exposed to people who may want to use that information for their benefit. If you suspect you may be infected or your system compromised, let our experts at Computer Source eliminate the problems and reassure you that you are safe.
Our certified technicians can discover, isolate and remove those infections and restore your computer to an optimized state, and infection free. Contact us today if you have reason to believe your computer may have malicious software and viruses. The quicker we can fix the problem, the safer your data will be and better your computer will run.
Here are some indicators of your computer being infected with malicious software of some kind.
Computer Lagging or Unusually Slow
A large portion of internet traffic is from malicious software that is either unknowingly being installed or sending information from other infected computers. If you are infected, then your computer is doing background activities of which you are not aware. Rootkits can take over all your internet bandwidth for the sole purposes of providing more power to the virus farms that work hard to keep spreading their infection. If your computer is acting a lot slower than usual, it is a very good chance that your computer has an unwanted visitor.
Strange or More Frequent Popups
Viruses and Malware usual begin showing their ugly heads, when you first are surfing the internet and a pop-up says you are infected. That popup wants you to click on them so that they can be installed and further affect your system. If these popups keep happening, even when visiting other websites, then let us scan your system and clean out any infections that may be trying to compromise your system. And if you ever get a popup saying your computer is infected and you must call a number to get it cleared out, that is a scam, and NEVER call the number.
Ransomware Has You Hostage
After the slowness increases, and the pop ups have done their duty, or perhaps out of the blue, seeing a screen full of demands for money to get your data back are a scary thing. This type of attack is done by software known as Ransomware. Sometimes these can just be popups that have that warning. Or at that point your files may already be encrypted. Or you try to open something that no longer will. These nasty infections seem to only be getting worse and are becoming more and more prevalent. Antivirus companies have not really been able to keep ahead of the curve on being able to stop these types of infiltrations. If you are asked to provide funds to get your data back unencrypted, the likelihood of you ever seeing your data again, even if you pay, is extremely small. So, we recommend to never call and never pay to get your files back. You do not want to give these types of people any financial information. Bring your computer to us to examine how we an help.
You can, however, prepare yourself for these types of attacks. To be proactive about such threats, there are a few key things to remember. The first, is to keep a backup often, like on external thumb or hard drives, and unplugging it from the main computer when done so that the ransomware can not find your backed up files. Keep two backups if you can. Use an antimalware type of scanner on your computer, not one just for antivirus. Do not go to nefarious places on the internet, open links in emails, or click on ads posing as search results. Be careful about links on such websites as Facebook and Pintrest, and emails you did not expect, even from websites you use. And if you do get any window that opens or you end up somewhere on the internet you did not intend on going, try to close out of the web browser, reboot your computer, and try to do a malware scan immediately. Other options is using a device like an iPad to browse the internet, as it is very locked down and secured from these types of threats. For the most part the internet is a safe place, but taking the proper precautions keeps others from trying to take your information and destroy your data, so that the rest of the web can be enjoyed.
Can't Access The Internet
A virus can often cut off your use of the internet so it can use it only for itself. An infection can use your computer as a bouncing station to send out other infections across other parts of the internet. If you know your internet is working, either with another computer or by contacting your Internet Provider, and you are experiencing this problem, then you could be infected and should bring it in for diagnostics.
Black Screen or Blue Screen (of Death)
If your computer has reached this point, your computer probably has several infections, and usually some that are out to harm your data and operating system. Sometimes the only way to get these systems back is to reinstall the computer completely. Our technicians will provide the expertise to get your computer cleaned or reinstalled and back up and running, hopefully protecting and restoring your data.
Know These Facts and Rules for Protecting Yourself from Harmful and Malicious Software:
History of Viruses
Back when viruses first came on the scene, the most common way to get a virus was from transportation methods. Floppy disks were the means of moving information from one computer to the other and were, therefore, how viruses spread and infected other users. There were even documented cases of original software being shrink-wrapped with viruses already on the disks, so when you brought it home to install it, you were already infected! Now, with the internet, all one has to do is download a certain email, or surf the web to get the infection transmitted to your computer. Preventative software plus smart internet use are the keys to preventing attacks to your system.
Differences Between Infections
Like categories of programs to get things done - such as Accounting, Productivity, or Word Processing - there are different types of computer infections. They all do basically the same thing but all in different ways. The term "virus" tends to be used rather generically to cover all malicious software that can harm a computer, whether that is spyware, malware, rootkit or Trojan horse. Specifically, a virus is any unwanted computers software that can replicate itself and spread to other machines. Generally, true viruses harm the computer system or your files in some way, even doing such things as wiping your entire hard drive. Malware may or may not include viruses. A worm, which is an extremely destructive type of malware attacks networks like a virus. Spyware itself can not replicate, so it is technically not a virus, as may be the case with other malware. To be Spyware, the software must collect information from the user of the computer it's installed on. So, contrary to viruses, which are typically harmful in some way, the makers of Spyware want you to keep using your computer so they can keep gathering your information. The other key trick to spyware is that, once it's on your machine, you may not even know it's there. Viruses usually want to be noticed, so evidence will likely be seen of its presence. Malware from the internet is generally what most modern users get infected with. Adware, Trojan horses, or worms are all malware and are most prevalent today. All the fake antivirus pop ups and credit card scam sites use these types of infections. Rootkits are another infection that allows another user control of your computer without your knowledge for the sole purpose of getting information or passwords, and using the power of your computer to help in the spread of other infections.
Susceptibly to Infections
Everyone is susceptible to malicious software. If you seem to be frequently infected, then it may have to do with how much more time you spend on the computer than others, or the specific sites you visit, even if it is a site that you feel should be okay to visit. Keep track of where you go and your habits when you may run into strange popups or sites that may be tricking you into installing malicious software on your system. Always be careful of any emails with attachments. Even emails from people of whom you are familiar can unknowingly be carrying a virus. Being protected by preventative software goes a long way to stop these types of infections.
Rules of Engagement for Every Day Users
DO be sure your system is already clean. Trying to install antivirus software on an already-infected computer is worthless and will only exasperate the problem. Computer Source can scan your system, remove any infections, and install software to help keep your system protected.
DO make sure you are running a modern operating system and the computer's system software is up to date. Windows XP, Vista, and 7 are still supported by most antivirus software and still being handed our security updates from Microsoft. If Windows Update is not set to update periodically, then change the settings in the operating system. It is best to set updates to happen automatically on home computers or manually update the system often.
DO make sure you are running a modern, current antivirus solution. Some people think they have protection when they are really running a version that has expired a few years ago. Virus technology changes and only the core programming of the software that fights it can prevent those infections in the best and most current ways. Keeping the most recently released version means keeping up as much as possible with the people who program the viruses, thus maintaining the best means of eliminating them.
DO make sure your antivirus or antispyware programs have current definition updates. Make sure to run an update before any scan and to keep updates automatic if possible.
DO ask questions to yourself when something on your computer asks you to install something out of the blue. Malware really likes to make you think you're installing something necessary. Pop-ups with questions about your security or showing crital threats, and want you to download something are usually infections of some type trying to trick you into installing them.
Rules for the Best Protection
DO put your internet connection on Standby or put your computer to sleep. If your internet is turned off or your computer is asleep, then the likelihood of getting an infection during those time is zero, even if you had a browser up when you put the computer to sleep.
DO have a separate account only for surfing. Using this method helps because most of the time, the user account is what becomes infected first. Using the internet only in a separate account allows you the freedom to delete that account if the first signs of an infection appear. On a Macintosh, you can actually set up a guest account that deletes everything done in that account when logged out.
DO use virtual environments like VMWare or Windows XP Mode to access the world wide web. These virtual machines can be set back to a state or completely reinstalled without affecting your normal operating system and system files. The virtual machine is completely blocked off from the rest of your computer files which completely keeps you safe.
While using the web or surfing the internet, DO NOT...
DO NOT Click on any portion of a popup. If you can, it is best to close out your browser completely - such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome - and after making sure all browser windows are closed, going back into your browser, but NEVER going to the site that gave you the pop up in the first place. However, if it is a site you are familiar with and the pop up never was there before, if you have any way of contacting the business with the site, then try to send an email and notify them of the pop up. The site is probably suffering from a temporary malicious attack.
DO NOT scan your system if a window suddenly pops up and asks you to scan or buy their software. This window is trying to install malicious software, and worse, trying to obtain your financial information.
DO NOT give anyone your personal information or financial data to anyone over the internet unless you specifically and thoroughly need to for money management software that you are completely aware about and understand. What makers of malicious software want most is to use your name and financial information for their own benefit.
DO NOT assume FREE antivirus or antispyware software is enough. The reason most of these types of software are offered for free is to provide a demonstration of their software. If you go to any of these sites and compare the free version to the paid version, you will see how much the free version is lacking. There is actually no one piece of software that protects you 100% of the time, which is why we recommend having one installed and another to run periodically. Tha practice give you about the most reasonable protection you can ask for, but having one free just leaves the door more open for the bad software to find a way to creep into your system.
NEVER allow anything installed on your system that you didn't initiate or try to install yourself.
NEVER give your credit card information to any program that asks you which you did not knowingly invite onto your system.
NEVER return an email that asks for personal and/or financial information. Almost always, these emails will be from a malicious origin, which is called phishing. No legitimate company will send email asking for this type of information. If you do get one of these emails, even if it looks to be from a legitimate source, delete the email immediately. You can always call a place to find out if they did in fact send out the emails.
NEVER fail to do a followup. If you think your computer may have been infected and you may have given private information to someone who shouldn't have it, then check your financial institutions for any discrepancies for a few months. If you know for a fact that your information has gotten into the wrong hands, you will probably need to open up new accounts and close your old ones to make sure you and your identity have not been compromised.
Hardware firewalls are another deterrent to internet infections.
A properly maintained firewall can stop the infections at the point on entry before it even reaches your computer. Computer Source can get you more information about firewalls and firewall equipment to help your home or business keep out malicious software. Contact us for all the service and solutions we offer to prevent Malicious software.
The Word on Apple Operating Systems
The rumors are true. Currently, no full virus exists for the Macintosh, iPhone, or iPad current operating systems. There are just none out there. However, although the Macintosh operating system is secure, other third party add-ons such as Java or Flash are sometimes vulnerable to attacks from spyware, or malware, which have evolved to the point that user interaction is no longer required. Malicious software that has attached itself to harmful web pages are susceptible to everyone, even Macintosh users. Pop-ups or fake ads disguised as software that is supposed to help you in some way can sometimes just be software which is designed to harm you or steal your personal information, even if you are using a Macintosh. Malware could possibly show up as a fake antivirus for Macintosh. These programs can try to get your credit card information, or act as a fuel station for the spread of other malware by using your internet bandwidth, slowing your computer and pushing your personal information out to the world.
As long as you keep your system up-to-date by running Software Update, and only updating Flash when it asks (a Flash update would NOT act like a new install, if it does this could be a fake installer), then the likelihood of getting any malware or spyware infection are still far less than on a Windows-based machine. Not ever installing Java or Flash, or any other system-affected third-party applications, at all, will make your operating system pretty much invulnerable. The latest Mac OS has antivirus pretty much built in, and is constantly updated, so the real threats usually only come from these other softwares not made by Apple. Apple is very active in stopping these types of malicious softwares at the source.
The most recent malicious software affecting Java and Flash on the Macintosh OS platform, is called the Flashback infection, and spread only through vulnerabilities in Java and Flash, and systems that were not up-to-date. Apple pushed Java updates which resolved the issue through Software Update, if you were running Snow Leopard or Lion. If you are not running these versions of the Mac OS and can, it would be best to get your Mac updated immediately, as these latest OS versions will be the most secure. We can help you determine if your system is capable of such an upgrade and help with that.
If you do have Lion, but do not have Java installed, Apple released a tool to help check for the same infection. Install and it will resolve the issue if there. You can download the Flashback removal tool here.
If you do feel like having an antivirus solution for your Macintosh computer would bring you more peace in this day and age of ever evolving and constant threat of infectious software, then we do recommend a free antivirus solution for the Macintosh called ClamXav. There is no commercial software that does any better than this Macintosh-community based solution. Download ClamXav here.
New threats are constantly revealing themselves. Make sure your software is up-to-date on the Macintosh by installing the latest operating system and running Software Update often from the Apple menu in the upper right corner of the screen, and on other devices by making sure the latest software version is installed. Also, never install any software that you do not know to be secure, especially if it is enticing you by showing you that you may already be infected. This method is a common way of scamming a user to install the bad software. However, there are even times when a user has done nothing, but the system may be acting slow or strange due to an unknown infection. If you think you have something like this, we can help. Computer Source has decades of Apple software experience to help you answer any of these questions and get your system clean and current.
Contact us, your local Apple Authorized Service Provider, today to get answers about security and Apple computers.