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What is Malware and Should I Worry About It? - Blog

Posted on: 24-04-2013

Malware is short for "malicious software" and comes in various forms such as viruses, ransomware, trojans, rootkits, keyloggers, adware and many other forms. Often people use the term to refer anything other than a virus, but really it is the umbrella term for all kinds of software on a computer that may do damage, spy of your Internet browsing activities or cripple your computer in some way.

Traditional viruses and trojan horses are fairly rare these days, as most people have some kind of anti-virus protection. However, other forms of malware can be potentially more harmful to your PC and allow someone access to your personal details.

Some of the more common forms of malware are ransomware, rogue security software
and browser hijackers.

Ransomware usually locks you out of the computer completely, telling you that you have been found to be downloading illegally or visiting illegal websites and will demand an amount is paid as a fine. They may identify themselves as the Federal Police or FBI and the software may even take a photo of you via your webcam. Of course, they are nothing to do with the Federal Police or FBI. Do not ever pay their ransom. Instead call a computer technician immediately to have the malware removed.

Rogue security software is probably the most common in my experience. The malware will tell you it is your security software. It will pop up every time you start the computer and say there are various issues with the hard drive, registry, and several trojans/viruses, etc. It may even lock you out of your computer. If you click "Fix" in the software to have the false issues fixed, it will then ask you to pay. Of course, never pay the amount it asks. There are probably no problem with your computer apart from the fake security software itself. Even if you do pay the amount, the fake software will not be removed. How do you tell the difference between rogue security software and real anti-virus software? If you don't remember installing the software, it is probably fake. But sometimes, the rogue security software may use the name of a common anti-virus software. If in doubt, check with a computer technician.

Browser hijackers take over your Internet browser and when you try to go to a particular website (usually only when clicking on a search result), it will take you to an advertising page instead. Browser hijackers are annoying, but many people just live with them, not really knowing what's wrong with their computer. They can usually be bypassed by copy and pasting the search result's URL into the address bar of your browser. However, you should get the malware removed still. There could be more going on in the background that you are not aware of.

To recap, all malware needs to removed by a computer technician - NEVER pay the amount they may be asking for - it will not fix the issue.

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