Preventing Malware: Tips and FAQs

What is malware?

Short for “malicious software,” malware is software that exploits your computer without your consent. The creators of malware have various intentions but none are good and include collecting private information, gaining control of your computer for nefarious activities, directing you to unsolicited purchases and interfering with your ability to properly use your computer.

How rampant is malware?

The Wall Street Journal has reported that “one in every 14 downloads is a piece of malware.” That’s a big number. The figures here vary wildly, and there is no universal consensus on the extent of malware proliferation. Needless to say, and everyone agrees, that malware is a problem. In our book, a single instance is too much and can adversely impact business.

What can you do?

Watch what you click In most cases, computers are unwittingly infected by users clicking on cleverly disguised malware links. Malware sources will try to lure you to click on their links by posing as surveys, free software or prize giveaways. Some malware even poses as anti-malware software, offering to “clean” your computer, and then infecting it instead! Even the “close” buttons on those annoying pop-ups can actually be links to malware downloads. If that opportunity to win that mobile device you have been yearning for looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Browse safely

Browse trusted websites. Avoid suspicious-looking sites and be wary of pop-up boxes that ask you to click on unfamiliar links. If you’re in suspicious territory, head out of there.

Be wary of social media notifications

With the growth of social media, it has become a prime target for malware developers. Scrutinize social media notifications and check links by hovering your mouse over them to confirm link addresses before clicking. Be cautious of unsolicited email In order to try to lure unsuspecting victims to infect themselves, malware is sometimes hidden in emails from nefarious senders posing as authorized or “helpful” companies, such as banks, government agencies or social networking sites. Be sure the email is legitimate before opening it. For example, if you have not authorized your bank to send you email to the account you are using, the message is probably not actually from them!

When you have no where to go, restart!

Some malware is so crafty that it will not allow you to close the pop-up window without harming your computer: any available button could cause your computer to become infected. If you find yourself in a situation where you suspect a site or a pop-up box of malware but can’t seem to escape, quit out of your web browser or, if that does not work, restart your computer.

Call for help!

If you think you have contracted malware on your computer, please contact us right away. If caught early enough, most malware can be cleaned from computer systems before it causes too much damage. If malware is left to work its black magic, effective removal is nearly impossible and a complete rebuild is the only recourse.

What symptoms indicate a computer has been compromised?

  • Computer performs unusually slow

  • Computer reboots on its own

  • Web browser jumps to the wrong pages

  • Web browser won’t display certain pages

  • Emails aren’t displayed properly

  • Emails randomly disappear

  • Pop-up ads randomly display on your screen

  • Files are locked

What is Cyber City doing to fight malware?

We actively battle malware every minute of every day:

  • System software is meticulously updated with the latest security patches

  • Firewalls and spam filtering secure network perimeters

  • Best practices and policies are always encouraged

  • Anti-malware and anti-virus software is actively deployed, updated and monitored in real time

Malware is a problem and is here for the foreseeable future. Through implementation of safeguards and best practices, we can effectively keep it at bay.