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We will periodically publish an article that contains helpful information for you and your computer. All articles will be explained in the simplest terminology possible. For more information or if you would like to suggest a topic please contact us.

Spyware and Malicious Software

Malicious software (malware) is defined as a piece of software that compromises your computer. It can consist of a virus, Trojan horse, spyware and more. Malicious software can do a range of bad things.

It can share or destroy any information you have stored on your pc. It can give someone across the Internet complete access to your PC – they can see your screen and operate your keyboard and mouse. Email spammers can even start using your computer as a source to send out spam (electronic version of junk mail).

All of this can be done without your knowledge or consent. Some people do not even realize they are infected with something. They simply get used to the large number of advertisement pop-ups or don’t even know that everything they do on their computer is being watched or recorded.

Believe it or not, preventing malicious software is actually not that hard. Follow these guidelines to help reduce your chances of an infection to almost zero:

* Keep your Windows Updates current. For more information see our Windows Update article.

* Use effective antivirus software.

* Do not use an account with Administrator rights. For more information see our Don’t be an admin article.

* Use common sense. Don’t open attachments from people you do not recognize, and be weary of attachments from people you do know. It is possible that they are infected and unknowingly sent you a copy of the infection.

* Be careful what websites you visit on the Internet. Some of the more “questionable” websites often contain spyware. If you are still using Internet Explorer, it is time to consider switching to Firefox or Chrome.

If you can follow these recommendations, your chances of being infected with malware are greatly reduced.

If you think you are infected with malicious software, you probably are. Symptoms may include: large number of advertisement pop-up windows or your computer runs slow or crashes.

Depending on the complexity of the infection, you may be able to remove everything yourself. Before proceeding, we recommend you get a good backup of all of your important data.

You can visit this web page to perform an online scan from anti-virus company Eset. We recommend doing the scan online rather than using your current antivirus. If the scan turns up anything, you know you have a problem.

Next you should install an anti-spyware programs. We recommend Malware Bytes from this website.

Download, install and run these programs. Make sure you perform the updates (the software will prompt you to do so) before running a scan. If the programs inform you of an infection, follow the recommended procedure to remove it.

Continue to reboot as necessary and run the above scans until you are told nothing is detected.

These are basic steps to removing spyware. There are more advanced methods for removing spyware, but they are specific to the infection and the techniques are beyond the scope of this article. If you continue to have trouble with spyware please contact us for help.

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