What is malware and how do I get it?
Generally speaking, malware are malicious software designed to infiltrate a computer system without the owner knowingly allowing it to. It’s intent is to perform devious acts on or using your computer. These are programs that generate misleading alerts and false detections in order to convince users to purchase illegitimate security software.
What are the symptoms?
Pop-ups, website redirection, network configuration changes, unresponsive computer, etc…
How did I get it?
The source usually comes from emails, websites, pirated software downloads, P2P applications, fake video codecs, software exploits (ie. acrobat), etc… The typical scenario is a pop-up that asks you to download and install something. Once the download and install happens, the malware will take over the computer.
How do I protect myself?
- We still live in a world where humans can usually make the best decisions. This means user training is one of the best method to prevent infections. Below are a list of things to train users on that doesn’t require a lot of time.
- Users should be a little paranoid and skeptical when it comes to reading the emails they receive, especially emails requesting actions to be taken. If it sounds important, take the time to read and verify it carefully!
- Users should make sure they have an SSL connection when making transactions online or logging into banking sites.
- Exercise caution with e-mail and files received from unknown sources, or received unexpectedly from known sources. If the email is from someone they know, make sure it has relevant content specific to that person (ie. writing style, context of message, etc.)
- Users should know sometimes a pop-up can be made to look like a Windows error message. Recognizing legitamite software interfaces can help (Antivirus software, Windows Security Center, Windows Defender, Anti-malware software)
- Don’t download random software from the Internet until you know it has a valid homepage and user base (look for software reviews for it). Once that’s verified, make sure you download directly from the vendor’s website.
- Users should understand how a website can be spoofed to go to the wrong website using the HOSTS files.
- Users should understand that a text link can have a different URL embedded.
- Don’t install software unless you were intentionally trying to.
- Keep Windows and your browser software up-to-date by downloading and applying security updates.
- Use an active and updated antivirus and anti-malware application that detects harmful websites, files, and emails. There are many applications out there that are free. Some highly recommended ones are Spybot Webroot, Search and Destoy, MalwareBytes, SuperAntispyware, PC Tools Spyware Doctor.
- Boot into SAFE MODE. It will give you a more effective platform to work with.
- The key is to get the system to allow you to install anti-malware software with the latest updates to slowly remove the programs.
- Fix infections and reboot often will get you further along in the removal process.
- There is no perfect anti-malware software, therefore, you should run scans using multiple anti-malware software to make sure all malware is removed.
- Can’t run/install software due to access permissions – This is usually due to the software restriction in your local security policy or your registry has malicious group policies regarding software restrictions configured.
- Can browse website or weird website redirections – Check the Internet Explorer proxy settings. 95% of the time, it shouldn’t be using a proxy. Also, make sure your HOSTS file doesn’t have malicious entries in it.