Malwares are silent killers. Most of us see them as something harmless and majority of times we don’t even realize that our system is infected by a malware. This is so because its effects seem similar to that of a hardware malfunction.
So what exactly does a malware do?
Malware as the name suggests stands for “MALicious softWARE.” It is specially designed to reside silently on your system, gain access to it and steal sensitive data.
People often get confused between a virus and a malware. While our ears rise up in alarm on a virus notification on the system, we pay no heed or tend to act reluctantly on information about malware.
Virus is a subset of malware. Malware along with virus encompasses spyware, worms, adware, trojans etc. Ransomware is one of the latest forms of malware that restricts you from accessing your system till you pay the fees.
How to detect a malware in your system?
Unlike virus, not all malwares can be detected by your antivirus software. A malware may be available in a very basic form camouflaged right before your eyes. Here are just a few examples that may suggest that your PC has been compromised:
- You may receive the error “Internet Explorer could not display the page” when attempting to access certain websites.
- Your web browser (e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome) freezes, hangs or is unresponsive.
- Your web browser’s default homepage is changed (eg. automatically directed to delta search, wise search etc.).
- Access to security related websites is blocked.
- You get redirected to web pages other than the one you intended to go to.
- You receive numerous web-browser popup messages.
- Strange or unexpected toolbars appear at the top of your web browser.
- Your computer runs slower than usual.
- Your computer freezes, hangs or is unresponsive.
- There are new icons on your desktop that you do not recognize.
- Your computer restarts by itself (but not a restart caused by Windows Updates).
- You see unusual error messages (e.g., messages saying there are missing or corrupt files folders).
- You are unable to access the Control Panel, Task Manager, Registry Editor or Command Prompt.
How to prevent attacks from malware ?
Prevention is better than cure. Ensure the following to keep malwares at bay:
- Keep your anti-virus up to date and scan the system occasionally.
- Keep your System updated. It is always preferred to have “automatic update” feature turned on.
- Do not click on ads or unnecessary links while surfing the web.
- Do not open emails which do not seem to be from a genuine source.
- Use personal firewalls. Most of the windows systems have built in firewall turned on by default.
Despite the precautions if you have are still a victim of malware attack do not take it lightly. There are free tools such as malwarebytes anti-malware, RKILL, HitmanPro, AdwCleaner etc. which can help clean your system. For Windows users Microsoft offers its own service where it does a free security scan for you. You can also download the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool which does the job of wiping away certain specific malwares. Click here to read this post about Malware removal on Windows.
Always remember, an antivirus never fills up the place of an anti-malware and an anti-malware is not a replacement for antivirus software.