Understand and Avoid the Dangers of Malware

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Malware can easily enter your computer and cause performance problems or even shut you completely out of your system. Find out the dangers of malware, new malware threats and how to avoid getting infected.

The internet has revolutionized society. However, flies seem to enter that which is good and spoil the oil. Malware are basically destructive viruses and programs that act as the flies in the internet’s ointment. Such devious and destructive applications have been around since shortly after the rise of internet use, particularly once computers went to the user-friendly Windows application en masse.

In a nutshell, malware consists of any software that is designed with the intention to disable or damage individual computers or much larger computer systems. Unless you are a seasoned computer tech, you will need to get help from a malware removal application if your computer becomes infected.

Because computers can appear to function normally when infected, it's a good idea to run this tool regularly even if your computer seems to be fine. You should also use up-to-date antivirus software, such as Microsoft Security Essentials, to help protect your computer from other malware. Windows 8 includes antivirus and antispyware software called Windows Defender. Windows Defender for Windows 8 replaces Microsoft Security Essentials.

Locked Out for ‘Ransom’

As with everything else, malware practices and techniques become more sophisticated with time. What used to be only very occasional or limited in range has grown into a major problem that can bring down entire systems or even completely lock you out of your computer.

An example of the later is the newest malware to hit the World Wide Web called ‘Ransomware’. This particularly nasty virus captures complete control of your computer, locking you out and then displaying an alarming message that instructs those infected to either provide a cash ransom or critical system passwords before access can be regained.

Ransomware is exceptionally nasty because, in many cases, it utilizes site visitation data to pressure the victim. Those who visit porn, gambling, or pirated product sites are particularly vulnerable because malware messages use that intimate data to intimidate users. For example, if you purchase DVDs from a pirate movie site, Ransomeware will identify your location, lock down your computer and display a message along the lines of “We know you purchased movies from XXXXX.com. This action is illegal and unless you provide us with your login passwords, you will be reported to the authorities and receive a large fine or face time in prison, or both”. Those who use work computers to visit such sites are especially put under the gun since ridding the system of malware would require notifying business authorities and even result in being fired.

Signs of Computer Infection

Many malware applications aren’t so easily identified as with Ransomware that locks you out of your computer and displays a bold message. Other software viruses can lurk in the shadows for weeks, months, or years before you discover them. Therefore, it is good to be able to recognize the signs of your computer having a malware virus.
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Performance Problems – When your PC is infected with malware, it will generally slow down performance or cause the PC to crash frequently. This is due to malware utilizing key resources of the hard drive.

Unusual Behavior – Certain forms of malware can cause unusual computer behavior. For example, a toolbar may be ‘magically’ installed and then cannot be deleted, or you may experience unexplained modifications to your personal webpage or homepage, or you might be directed to search engine results that you didn’t initiate.

How to Best Avoid Malware

Your computer coming down with malware is similar to you coming down with the flu. Although you cannot guarantee that you will not get the flu, you can greatly reduce the chances by avoiding or initiating certain practices. Here are some ways to best protect your computer from coming down with a case of malware flu.

Avoid questionable sites – If you don’t want to get the flu, you avoid crowded places frequented by a lot of shady people. So it is with malware. Porn sites, gambling sites, pirated product sites and other places where a large number of shady people flock provide the best chances for picking up a malware ‘bug’, so avoid them.

Take Care with Emails and Pop-ups – Questionable emails and links they contain as well as those annoying pop-ups are both prime carriers of malware. Don’t click on pop-ups, don’t open questionable emails and especially don’t click on links within them.

Use Security Software – If ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ then it’s well worth investing in good internet security software that catches malware before it has a chance to enter and infect your system.

If you suspect that your computer has been infected, get help from a malware removal application as soon as possible.

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