VIRUSES & SPYWARE
What is a Virus?
Viruses are malicious software that interrupts the normal operation of your computer. The term “Virus” can include Trojans, Worms, and Rootkits.
What is Spyware?
Spyware is any software that secretly collects information from the computer on which it is installed, and then reports this information back to its creator via the Internet. Spyware runs “in the background” and uses available resources, slowing your computer down.
What is Malware?
Malware is a general term that includes Viruses and Spyware, but also includes any program that is malicious or causes the computer not to function properly.
My internet is slow, is my computer infected?
Most spyware runs when your internet browser is open, slowing down your online experience. Both Spyware and Viruses can utilize your Internet to spread or send information, reducing your available internet speed. This can also slow down your entire network, so that infection-free computers will also experience slower internet speeds.
Has your homepage or browser been altered?
Spyware can change your homepage without your consent. It can also add unwanted buttons to your Internet browser’s toolbar.
What else does Malware do?
Even more dangerous, some malware has the ability to log every keystroke, including passwords, or retrieve files on your PC. It can even download and install additional malware without your knowledge.
My computer constantly pops up advertisements, or redirects me to another page, what can I do?
These issues are typically the result of Spyware or similar malware, and can be removed by using specially designed software tools. Anti-malware programs are available online, but we recommend having your computer cleaned up by a professional. Call us at (406)363-1540 for assistance.
ANTI-VIRUS UPDATES & SUBSCRIPTIONS
Most antivirus software will automatically update the virus definition file periodically. However, many anti-virus solutions require user-intervention to manually update the program itself. If your subscription has expired, we recommend installing a newly released version to ensure maximum protection. Almost every vendor releases a yearly program upgrade. If your subscription is not yet expired, you should verify that the new upgrade will support your current subscription, otherwise you may have to pay for a new subscription.
Do not let your subscription expire. If expired, your computer is vulnerable to any new infections. It is the newest viruses that cause the most problems, so be pro-active in order to prevent infections.
Several programs are available online for removing malware. It should be noted that most of these programs should only be used by intermediate to advanced users. An example of such a program is MalwareBytes(tm) Anti-Malware, but the user should understand that these programs are not 100% effective, either at prevention or removal. In the event of a serious infection, we recommend having your PC professionally cleaned up. Call us at (406)363-1540 for assistance.
It is important to keep your Windows Operating System up-to-date in order to improve performance, protect against new security vulnerabilities, and help prevent malware infections.
To check for updates, select the “Start Menu,” then “All Programs,” and click on “Windows Update.” On this screen, you can check for available updates, or install recommended and optional updates.
For older Windows versions, try browsing online to: www.windowsupdate.com
Phishing is one of the latest cons used by high-tech criminals to facilitate one of America’s leading forms of fraud-identity theft. Basically, the scam uses spam (unsolicited e-mail) or malware pop-ups to bait consumers into disclosing sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, account and routing numbers, credit card numbers, personal identification numbers, passwords, and other private data.
Phishing scams usually give the appearance of being from a legitimate business. The fraudsters tell the e-mail recipients they need to “update” or “validate” their billing information to keep their accounts active. Unknowingly, consumers then submit their information to the impostor, who then uses the personal data to commit identity theft.
To avoid getting reeled into one of these scams:
- If you get an e-mail that warns you – with little or no notice – that an account of yours will be shut down or interest suspended unless you reconfirm your billing information, do not reply or click on the link in the e-mail. Instead, contact the legitimate company cited in the e-mail using a telephone number or web address you know to be genuine.
- Avoid e-mailing personal and/or financial information.
- Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar, or check that the address begins with “HTTPS” (Not HTTP, the “S” is for SECURE) before submitting financial information through any web site. This signals that your information is encrypted during the transmission.
- Review credit card and account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or financial institution to confirm your billing address and account balances.
For more help, contact us at Hamilton Computer Service!