from the Cleveland group
Malware, adware, spyware, worms, Trojans, viruses and defective software.
What’s the difference and how do I protect my business?
Malware is the term given to all Malicious software and therefore encompasses the family of adware, trogans and viruses but does not include defective software.
Malware is a software program that has been intentionally designed to change a user’s settings without their permission, delete a competing software program, cause a competing software program to stop working, or leave a computer open to attacks.
A virus is a malicious program which can reproduce itself and spread to other computers while it is running. The terms such as Trojans and Worms refer to the method of attack.
A worm virus (Write Once Read Many) is a destructive software program containing code capable of gaining access to computers or networks.
A Trojan is a program or utility that appears to be something useful or safe, but in reality is performing background tasks such as giving access to your computer or sending personal information to other computers. Trojan horses are one of the most common methods a criminal uses to infect your computer and collect personal information from your computer. Below are some basic examples of how your computer could become infected with a Trojan horse.
- A site offers a free download to a program or game that normally costs money. Downloading the pirated version of a program or game allows you to illegally use or play it, however, during the install it also installed a Trojan horse onto the computer.
- A popular screen saver website has become infected or uploaded infected screen savers. Downloading the screen saver to your computer also installs a Trojan horse onto the computer.
- You receive an e-mail that appears to be from a friend asking you to view this fantastic new program or look at a file. Opening the file infects your computer with a Trojan horse.
- A friends Facebook account is hacked and has sent out personalized messages telling all their friends to see this exciting new video. Opening the video requests a download that has a hidden Trojan horse that infects your computer.
Terms such as Scareware, Adware, Spyware
Scareware is a term given to describe software that scares the users into purchasing the full program. A good example of scareware is a program claiming it’s an antivirus or other security protection program and that it’s found dozens of potential threats on the computer, which in reality are either nonexistent or not really a threat to the user or his or her computer. The scareware then directs you to a website where you can purchase the removal tool.
Adware tracks individuals Internet activities and habits to help companies advertise more efficiently.
Spyware are becoming an ever-growing threat to users who browse the Internet or install free programs. However, many computer users do not realize when these programs are secretly installed on a computer or realize when their system or browsers settings are changed. Below is a listing of potential symptoms a user may encounter when their browser or computer has been hijacked.
• Default home page changes to a different page; commonly an adult oriented web page.
• Computer slows down.
• New tools in the browser such as a new search toolbar is installed or added to the browser.
• Default search engine or other settings changed.
Unfortunately, many of the software programs designed to hijack a computer’s browser are intentionally designed to be difficult to remove or detect.
Below are recommendations on how these programs can be prevented and removed.
When installing free programs such as KaZaA, read the disclaimers and watch for additional programs that are being installed. Many times these programs are supported by automatically installing spyware programs. If you no longer use these programs on a regular basis, uninstalling these programs will (but not always) also uninstall any associated software that is included with them.
If you are running Microsoft Windows and you have noticed a program that you do not wish to use or want uninstalled, see if the program can be removed through Add/Remove programs in the Control panel.
If the spyware program you’re attempting to uninstall cannot be uninstalled or gets reinstalled when you reboot the computer. Boot the computer into Safe Mode and then uninstall the program while in Safe Mode.
Restore browser settings
Some web pages and programs are designed to automatically change your browser’s settings. For example, a web page or program may automatically change your default home page to an alternate home page. These issues can be corrected by following the below steps.
• Close all browser windows so that only one window is open.
• Visit an alternate safe site such as Google.
• Correct the settings changed, such as changing your home page back to your original home page.
• Once the settings have been changed and applied, close out of the browser window.
• The next time the browser is opened it should have the correct settings. However, if the site that changed your browser settings is visited again, it is likely that the settings will be changed again.
Spyware, Adware, and Malware detection and removal programs
Antivirus programs can only detect, and remove infections they know about so it is important to keep them current. Always download antivirus programs from the manufacturer’s web site so that you know you are installing the genuine program.
Below is a listing of a few of the programs you may wish to consider.
• Microsoft’s Windows Defender
• Ad-aware from Lavasoft
• Spy Sweeper from Webroot Software
• Spybot Search and Destroy
• SpywareBlaster from Javacool Software
• HijackThis by Merijn.
A computer can have any number of compatible spyware programs installed at the same time and it’s recommended that you have more than one to help against computer infection. When running these programs if the spyware returns after rebooting the computer boot the computer into Safe Mode and run the spyware programs while in Safe Mode.
If you are running Microsoft Windows, updating to the latest Service Pack will help protect your computer against spyware.
Try alternative browser
Because Microsoft Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser today and because of its vulnerabilities, switching to an alternative browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Safari can significantly reduce the amount of spyware you get on your computer.
Users who are running Microsoft Windows XP or later and are not able to remove a program that has hijacked their computer or browser may also wish to consider running the Microsoft System Restore and restore the computer to an earlier date.
How can I protect myself while online?
Be aware that even with a current antivirus program that your information is not secure when operating over the internet. If you give permission for a program to install, your antivirus program will generally allow it. A lot of programs will not install correctly if your antivirus is running and often request that you disable it during installation.
Use a third-party service to confirm the safety and security of a page
I recommend the free Web of Trust (WOT) tool to verify the safety of all websites on the Internet.
If you suspect you have Malware and are having trouble removing it, always seek professional advice. If detection is found, it is strongly recommended to change all your passwords after your computer is cleaned as it is likely that your identity has been compromised. Computit Pty Ltd are specialists in virus detection, identification and removal and can advise on a course of action to secure your network.
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