Category Archives: Malware Info

Malware May Be Hard At Work On Your Computer

If you’ve been using a personal computer for some time the word “Malware” gets on your nerves. Malware is the nice term for malicious software, anyone that has had their PC corrupted by it will use a different choice of words. Malicious software includes viruses, adware, spyware, and Trojans.

If you don’t take precautions they will take over your computer.

Viruses are probably the most common type of malware. Viruses can do all kinds of maddening things to your computer. They can erase all the files on your hard drive, cause your computer to close windows without reason, they can eventually cause your system to not even turn on.

Adware is another type of Malware that is not quite as openly malicious as a virus but can be just as annoying. Adware is a type of software that people inadvertently download onto their computer.

They may download a screensaver or a video game and before you no it your whole desktop has changed. Adware is used to monitor a persons surfing habits so that the person can market specific messages to them. If you’re getting a lot of pop ups and banner advertising, it’s probably Adware at work.

Spyware is similar to adware but in addition to monitoring your surfing it can also record your keystrokes. The real scare to spyware is that it is looking for you to put in personal data such as financial information, like a social security number, credit card numbers, banking accounts. Like adware, spyware usually finds its way onto your hard drive through some sort of freeware download.

Trojans are some of the most dangerous types of malware.

Many Trojans. are downloaded to your computer by hackers and steal your personal and financial data and then report it back to a hacker database. Most trojans are sometimes downloaded by clicking links in email that look normal but are really hyperlinks to hacker databases where the Trojan is then downloaded to your computer.

The good news is that you can protect your information and your computer by using anti virus or anti malware software.

If you have a specific problem with one kind of malware, you might want to buy a specific product, but for all round protection, virus software usually works the best.

Virus software works by scanning your computer files, searching for viruses and malware files. Scanning your computer files can take a few minutes to a few hours depending on how big your hard drive is. Once a virus or malware file is found, the virus software puts the file in an isolation area. At the end of the scan, the virus software reports the list of any malware files found and asks what you want to do with the files. You can then erase all the files or keep them isolated until you know what they are.

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Virus Overview

Computer Viruses are one of the biggest “bogeyman” of the Internet, and with attacks by Melissa, ILoveYou, Nimda, and Michelangelo, there are damage estimates and virus warnings all over the Internet. But what are they really?

A virus is a program that spreads to other computers. Like all forms of malware, it both runs without the user’s knowledge or permission and it can interfere with other programs that are trying to run on the same computer. Some viruses also carry a payload, like ticking time bombs. On a given date, or after a certain time after the computer is infected, the virus will “trigger.” This trigger can damage files, erase drives, or attack other systems over the Internet.

Viruses have two major goals. First, they need to be run and installed on the infected computer, and two, they need to spread to other computers. And they need to meet these two goals without alerting the owner of the computer.

There are a wide variety of ways for a virus to infect a system. Many early viruses used the “boot sector” of a floppy disk as their infection point. If the user powered on the computer with an infected floppy disk in the drive, the computer would try to boot from the floppy.

The virus would infect the system, but make it look like the computer had tried to boot from a blank floppy disk. The virus met both goals at the same time, because every time a new disk was inserted into the drive, the virus would put another copy of itself into the boot sector. Today, floppy disks are far less common, and boot sector viruses have all but disappeared.

One of the most common infection routes today is by email attachment. Many viruses today will even search the address book and send out emails without the owner’s knowledge.

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Adware Overview

Adware is advertising delivered directly to your computer. Generally, a program puts ads on the screen at some regular interval. In some cases, this program can be installed without the user’s knowledge, but not always. Many programs clearly state on install that “this program is supported by advertising, and if you turn off the advertising, you also shut down the program.”

Adware tends to be a “grey area” in the malware family. Yes, it can run without the user’s knowledge, and yes, it can bog down the system (especially when the adware program goes online to retrieve new ads to display). At the same time, adware is generally more open about what it does, giving the user the choice to install the program the adware is attached to.

Adware is most often tied into Internet Explorer somehow. The ads that appear are browser windows.

When it’s installed above-board, adware is generally accepted by the internet community as a valid marketing system, even though it can include elements of spyware (ie, it tracks information, and uses that information to deliver targeted ads to the user). If one user of a system installs adware on a system, and another user is then tracked, then the program crosses the line from adware to spyware–because the second user is being tracked without their consent.

Some other forms of adware have used sneaky programming tricks to hide or cover website advertising. For example, an adware program can read an incoming website, and learn the location of a banner ad on that page. Then, the program can use that information to put an ad of it’s own in the exact same spot, hiding the legitimate ad. This deceptive use of adware is often called “stealware” because it steals the advertising space from the original website.

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Spyware Overview

Imagine a program that watches your computer.

It sits in memory, watching everything the computer does–the websites it displays, the passwords used to get into them, the advertisements that get clicked on. This program silently and secretly gathers all of this information, without the user’s knowledge. Then, at some point, it connects to a server somewhere on the Internet, and hands over this collection–again, without letting the owner of the computer know what it’s done.

Scary thought?

Experts believe that at least six out of ten perhaps as many as nine out of ten computers on the Internet have this kind of malware installed. Like a virus, many spyware programs run without the user’s consent or knowledge.

There is an entire industry devoted to gathering demographics information through the use of spyware, and there is another industry that’s grown to combat spyware.

Spyware is meant to capture “demographics.” This is meant to help advertisers better target their ads. For example, if a piece of spyware reports that the user recently visited websites for car dealerships, then the spyware server would then send ads for cars to the computer.

Many people, however, regard this as an invasion of privacy. Spyware companies claim to only gather “generic” information, like web site addresses and zip codes, but it’s still very easy to gather critical information. Anything entered into a web form can end up in the spyware collection–such things as phone numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers, and even social security numbers can all find their way into a spyware database.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Some popular programs have spyware attached, and will quit working if the spyware is uninstalled–so the user has to decide whether that program is worth it.

Provided, of course, the user even knows that the spyware is running on his system.

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