Malware: Know Your Enemy!

As we discussed previously, email is a very common method used in the transmission of malware to your computer. The malware that can be distributed to your device itself, however, can vary greatly in terms of its function and result. Some can be a mere annoyance, while others can wind up costing you a great deal of money. For this reason, it’s important to be able to recognize the threats available and know what is at stake.

Types of Malware:


Adware causes popups advertisements to show up on your computer screen whenever you are connected to the internetShort for Ad supported software, Adware will cause popups to invade your screen whenever you are connected to the internet. This malware finds its way onto your device attached to another file you might download– particularly free software.

When downloading and installing a new file, it is very important to see if it comes bundled with any other software and uncheck any “premium utility upgrades” or something similar.


Bots are used to hack into your email account and send spam messages to thousands of users without your knowledgeBots are programs that automatically perform specific functions. Often used for relatively harmless behavior, such as cheating at video games or topping bids on eBay, malicious versions can be used to reduce your device to a zombie following the orders of a cybercriminal. Collections of bots, called botnets, are used for cyber attacks and distributing spam messaging.

You can tell if you are infected with a Bot by monitoring your email activity. Common signs of infection include new email accounts synced with your computer and undelivered message alerts for emails you did not send.


Ransomware presents an alarmist scenarion in which you are threatened with imprisonment unless you pay a fine. Malicious encryption prevents any access to your files or the internet.Ransomware is designed to lock your computer and render most or all of its functions inaccessible by encrypting the data on your hard drive. Ransomware will often present itself as a government block on computer activity, and accuse you of illegal activity, such as pirating software. The program will require you to pay a fine to regain access, and threaten you with imprisonment.

Ransomware is arguably the most harmful to your devices because it can permanently block usage unless the fine is paid. By simply paying the fine, however, you provide a cyber criminal with personal information that can be used to steal more money from you. Depending on the complexity of the encryption used, a hard drive wipe may be the only way to remove the lock. For this reason, it is highly important to backup your data regularly as a precaution.


Specialized software is used to reveal Rootkits within your systemRootkit is malicious software application that runs silently in the background of your processes and allows for remote access of your device. This allows third parties to execute files, steal personal data, alter files and security settings, and download more malware.

Due to the stealthy nature of Rootkits, they are virtually undetectable on the devices they infect. The only way to locate the file with specialized software the can recognize it within your processes.

The best approach in prevention and detection is to regularly look up the processes that run in the background of your device and look out for any new files.


Look for reduced performance and unfamiliar executable files in your processes tab to recognize spywareIn its least harmless form, Spyware is used to monitor your web activity for more targeted advertising. This form commonly comes bundled with free games, screensavers, and interface customization tools. If you notice a new toolbar in your web browser or unexpected changes to your homepage preferences, these could be signs that there is Spyware present.

In its most malicious form, however, SpyWare can be used to record your keystrokes and acquire important data, such as passwords and credit card information. Like Rootkits, keylogging software also runs silently, and can best be recognized from within your processes tab. Spyware can also slow your computer function by a considerable amount, so you must also be on the look out for sudden changes in computer performace.


Trojans pose as helpful files with malicious code buried within its contents

Trojans are not so much malware with a specific function as they are a specific mode of delivery. Similar to the story of the Trojan Horse in Greek Myth, Trojan software will be presented as a safe file to download but have malicious content hidden within. For this reason, it is important to review all potential downloads for incorrect spelling, vague titles and other conspicuous details.

Results of a Trojan download include infection with any of the other forms of Malware described above, and the subsequent effects associated with them.

What do I do if I’m Infected?

First off, simply keeping all your software updated is a very good preventative measure against malware, as it can recognize malicious files before they have the chance to infect you. Updated operating systems and antivirus, for example, can quarantine viruses and prevent them from affecting your files and spreading elsewhere.

In the event that you are infected, running anti-virus software the moment you notice the infection is the first step to make. From there you can isolate and delete the malicious content. If this does not work, see if you can restore your computer to a previous saved state before the infection. There is always the chance that the infection may carry over back to the previous iteration of your device and may require a more in-depth removal process.

In this case, taking your device to a professional like Metro CSG for removal may be your best bet. In addition to removing infection, Metro CSG can also review your system for weaknesses and provide upgrades to prevent future infection.

If you have any concerns about your risk for infection, please reach out to us for a discussion about your security options. We would be happy to speak with you.

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