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3 Tips for Malware Prevention

This is a world where virtually anything can be accomplished online (or with a computer in general), and when it comes to viruses, there are plenty to go around. Viruses fit under the ever-expanding umbrella of malware, otherwise referred to as malicious software, is loosely defined as any potentially unwanted or unsavory software. There’s a plethora of software which is considered malware, yet much of it isn’t described as harmful. It could be as simple as a reoccurring pop-up ad, which can be caused by adware. It should be noted that there are also many other forms of malware which can quickly wreak havoc on computer systems.

3 Tips for Malware Prevention

Computer systems, (at home or at work) are the front line in cyber warfare against the majority. Those on the home front are especially vulnerable. Because malware consists of such a broad range of software, it’s incredibly easy to call an item malware. So, here are a few tips for identifying and removing malware along with a couple of programs that can help and are free-to-use.

Don’t mess with your emails

Especially in the wake of the Equifax scandal, everyone should be at Defcon-1 in regards to efforts in upholding cybersecurity. Never open emails of suspicious-looking subject matter nor questionable origin, ever! Here lies a possible outcome. Emails may be spoofed to the degree of identicality to that of an email you would receive under ordinary circumstances, say, from a colleague. Some may contain ill-disposed code which may download malware from the internet without the user’s knowledge. This is known as a drive-by-download attack. Or if you are using an unpatched browser, this could trigger a buffer overflow flaw and thus allow for remote code execution on exploited by an attacker. Alternatively, malignant mail can and are more often part of a social engineering campaign. Social engineering is essentially what a con-artist practices, the art of the scam. Assuming that there is such a computer which is deemed unhackable, people are and always have been, the weakest link. This is why learning the safeguards of technology is paramount.

Be careful with unfamiliar sites

Remember clicking on the part of the webpage that seemed like it was empty, only to find another window pop up? Of course, that’s called clickjacking. Usually, it just brings up ads, but this could easily take a turn for the worst. Clickjacking is an enormous annoyance, but it clearly presents a potential safety risk. For instance, what if one of those clicks opened the window to a drive-by ransomware download. Bad news, right?

If you use Google Chrome, you’ve probably seen the dangerous site warning at some point in time. If you get this error, heed their warning. Sometimes this warning can be a false positive, although it’s better to be safe than sorry. In general, look for sites that use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

Be careful of what you download

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s true, always be careful what is downloaded to your machine. This isn’t just about programs; it applies to PDFs, shell scripts, images, videos, java, adobe plugins, and much more. Even though browsers like google chrome are okay with alerting the user about downloads, that’s not enough. Neither is Windows Defender! Norton Security and Malwarebytes both do a great job of handling cyber threats. SpyHunter also does a great job, but it (the unpaid version) is VERY manual. This is a turn-off to many users. The upside is that it detects all sorts of bugs and annoyances that you probably don’t want.

Extra safety tips

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a proxy
  • Use HTTPS-Everywhere
  • Use an open-source password manager
  • Use an AdBlocker
  • Encrypt your storage
  • Make periodic backups
  • Turn on your firewall
  • Turn on your anti-malware

If you desire professional assistance in malware avoidance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

By PC Geeks Support / Blog / / 0 Comments

Are you one of those people who make a sincere effort to keep your PC or laptop free of malware and viruses?  Perhaps you have downloaded one of the free anti-virus software applications and you know all the tips and tricks to avoid questionable sites, suspicious emails and other types of harmful actions that could potentially wreak havoc with your computer.  Yet even though you’ve done everything right, your laptop or PC seems to be running slower and slower with every passing year.

Sluggish Computer? It's Not Just Your Imagination

If this sounds like your situation, it’s probably not your imagination.  Although there are some fairly respectable free anti-virus applications available and other good ones that require an annual subscription fee, they are not foolproof.  Even if your computer is not showing obvious signs of an infection from malware or a virus, a sluggish computer could still be infected.  If you have become increasingly frustrated with your computer, waiting for even simple actions to take effect, we can help.

We can perform specific diagnostics, checking your laptop or PC for pesky viruses and malware that might be the underlying problem responsible for your computer’s slow behavior.  We can also clean up temporary and unused files that can be dragging down your computer’s performance as well.  Investing in a regular tune-up for your computer equipment is much less expensive than replacing a laptop or PC every time it starts to decrease in response time.

If you are wary of your waiting for your computer to respond, contact us today.  We can get it back up and running like new again!

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It’s nearly every computer user’s nightmare. One minute they are humming along working on a project then the next minute they find their computer locked with a warning on the screen telling them that all their files have been encrypted. Only a payment (usually in Bitcoin) will allow them to access their documents again. The hackers set a deadline and if it is not met, then the files are gone forever. Better hope there was a backup somewhere… Virus and Malware removal doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

Virus and Malware Removal Doesn't Have To Be A Nightmare

Another scenario is that you get an email from someone you know with an attachment or a link. Without thinking, you download it or click on the link and once it executes, a LOT of sensitive information can be sent out. Even worse, everyone on your email contact list gets an email from you… with the file. You’ve been phished.

That doesn’t need to happen, though, if you prepare yourself. You won’t need a lot of effort, just a couple of downloads and added vigilance on your part.

You and your intuition are the first line of defense against getting a virus or malware. It may seem sad, but you need to have a very jaded eye when it comes to reading your emails. View every attachment that you get with suspicion. Pay attention to how the email is written, especially if you know the person who supposedly sent it. Did a longtime friend send you a stilted email without a greeting and a terse “Find Attached Important Files For Your View?” with a file attached? That should set off your warning bells and have you clicking the “Delete” button.

Secondly, you need a virus scanner and a malware scanner. Make sure that they operate independently of each other since if you have two virus scanners at the same time, they can actually miss a lot of things. Also, ensure that they have a real-time scanning function, since that way any files from emails or malicious websites that might slip through otherwise are caught.

Having those two things on your computer can save you a lot of grief and headaches. Got any more questions about stopping the scourge of viruses and malware from affecting you? Just contact one of our DFW locations.

By PC Geeks Support / Blog / / 0 Comments

An Israeli security firm has revealed that over one million Google accounts have been compromised by malware called Gooligan. The firm, Check Point, has been tracking this malware for over a year. That’s where malware And the removal of the Gooligan Virus come in.

Malware And The Removal Of The Gooligan Virus

The Gooligan virus was first detected in the SnapPea application. SnapPea, which can be downloaded on Windows from Cnet, was infected by the hackers with malicious malware. When users physically connected their Android devices to the computer, SnapPea downloaded apps to the device, with the user’s permission. However, the malware also downloads fake apps to the connected smartphone, which then gain root access to the device and collect personal information and Google authentication tokens, which can be used to log into Google accounts. The malware then relates this information back to its servers.

The malicious apps, which look legitimate, can also be installed from third-party app sites and by clicking on links in phishing attacks. Gooligan even leaves fake reviews on these apps to get people to download them.

How do you know if your account was hacked? Check Point, which has been working with Google on this issue, has developed a tool to check whether the email address associated with your account has been compromised. Simply enter your email address here.

If your account has been breached, you need to change your passwords immediately. You also need to do a clean operating system install on your device, through an operation called “flashing.” Contact a technician for help with that.

For more virus and malware removal tips, just contact us.

Malware and virus removal can be a complicated subject with a lot of terminologies that someone who has not studied computer security will generally not understand. This post will help you understand some of the terminology used when talking about malware and virus removal.

Understanding malware and virus removal terminologyThe term malware means malicious software; the term is a catch-all term that refers to many different types of malicious computer infections. A virus is a kind of malware and is a malicious program that is hidden inside of another program. A virus goes from file to file infecting many programs like a human virus goes from cell to cell.

A worm is a type of malware that replicates itself. Worms need no one to open files or perform any actions for their spread. A computer worm is a program that stands by itself while a virus infects another program. A rootkit is a set of computer software that allows unauthorized access to computer systems. A rootkit could be installed remotely on a machine and allow the unauthorized person access to your computer system. The administrator’s access to your computer is called root. Root has a similar meaning to the administrator.

Another type of malware is a Trojan horse. A Trojan horse pretends to be a valuable or wanted program or media file. When you try to use the program or media file that you think you downloaded, you will end up obtaining some sort of malware.

A different sort of malware than the mostly file destructive type of programs above is spyware. Spyware operates by gaining information on you and your computer for malicious purposes. One of the ways that spyware works is through a keylogger.  A keylogger works by recording your typing and program usage and transferring that information to someone else to use. Spyware can be even more dangerous than other types of malware as it can be used to steal valuable personal and financial information. If you have concerns for you PC regarding malware or virus removal please contact us.

By PC Geeks Support / Malware and Virus Issues / / 0 Comments

Viruses can do all kinds of nasty things if they make their way into your computer, from bloating your operating system to hijacking your e-mail. However, many people don’t know that some viruses and malware can make your PC or laptop completely unusable! It’s called bricking because it more or less turns your system into a glorified paperweight or a brick that won’t even turn on. To throw salt in the wound, unbricking a system is extremely difficult and requires the knowledge and know-how of a certified PC Geek, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to recover your, documents, pictures and other important files if your system isn’t protected from bricking in the first place. Knowing when to call a pro for virus removal can be the best solution.

Bricking: Know When to Call a Pro for Virus Removal

The best way to avoid having your device bricked is to protect yourself from malware and viruses in the first place. Work with a PC Geek technician to get your system up to speed with the best anti-virus and anti-malware software for you. A professional can guide you to an anti-virus software that won’t weigh down your system with excessive and unhelpful bloatware.

Protect yourself! Know the signs that indicate your system has fallen prey to a virus. If your system is running slower than usual or pop-up ads are showing up everywhere, your system could be weighed down by nefarious viruses and malware that could brick your device. Save yourself a headache; work with a professional virus removal service to get to the root of the problem before your problem becomes a brick.

For more information on protecting your system and preventing bricking, contact us for professional consultation.

Common Types of Malware

Common Types of MalwareIf you suspect that your computer may be infected, here are three common forms of malware be look for:

Ransomware

As the name implies, ransomware holds your computer – or your personal information ransom. Many times, this malware disguises itself as an update to existing software. Once installed, it encrypts, or locks, all data on the computer except for a single folder or file. This contains instructions explaining how to make a payment that will unencrypt your information. This is a lose-lose situation because paying the ransom will not necessarily remove the malware. Not only will you lose your hard earned cash, but you are still left wide open for future ransomware attacks.

Adware

Adware is often bundled with other software in the form of innocuous browser toolbars, free games, or other unsuspecting utility. Once installed, adware creates numerous pop-ups and webpage re-directs that renders all Internet browsing useless. Adware also tracks and collects personal data that can lead to identity theft, or further propagate the incessant barrage of pop-up ads.

Scareware

This form of malware is particularly devious because it tricks the user into thinking the computer is infected with a fictitious virus and misleads them into paying money for its removal. By doing so, not only will the originator of the scareware have your money, but your credit card information as well.

If your computer is demonstrating any of the above symptoms, you may be infected with malware. Fortunately, we can help! Our technicians can quickly evaluate your computer and perform a virus removal. Contact us to learn how we can serve your needs at your location or one of ours throughout Collin County.

 

Malware RemovalA disturbing new trend that is showing up more and more frequently in the computer repair fields are bogus phone calls designed to get access to your computer. Most frequently, these callers claim to actually be working for Microsoft or affiliated by way of partnership to them, but the truth is, this is a complete scam. The purpose is simply to talk you into allowing them to remote into your computers so they can inject questionable software that claims to find huge amounts of malware and viruses.

The most reason for these scam artists to do this is in order to sell you a questionable “anti-virus” or monthly sessions at extremely expensive rates by frightening unsuspecting folks into thinking that their machine has been messed up! The truth is, in most cases the only malware that is on your machine is most likely originating from the actual people who are calling you and asking for access to your computer. Often, these calls are initiated by a pop up on the screen that looks rather official, often stating that Microsoft has detected malware on your system, and asking that you call their phone number so it can be taken care of immediately! In rare cases, often if they manage to find a phone number, they will call directly with this approach in hopes of infiltrating your systems.

It should be noted, that Microsoft does not, nor ever has, called private consumers to warn them of malware, nor have they monitored any of the consumers in this manner. Knowing that Microsoft would never call you for anything, it makes it pretty easy to figure out If who you are talking to is a legitimate business.

  • Almost without exception these calls originate from overseas.
  • They will always ask to remote into your computer and install programs designed to scan for malware of other problems.
  • They will always find problems!
  • They will always ask for a lot of money to remove what they deem necessary
  • They are not affiliated with Microsoft whatsoever.

This is a growing problem now, and most computer technicians in shops like our own are sure to have heard of this scam. With the issue of the scams generally originating overseas, far from American law enforcement there is next to nothing that can be done so reporting it to authorities will usually just amount to lost time. Your best course of action are…

  • Do not allow them to remote into your computer
  • Do not give them any financial information such as credit card numbers
  • Simply hang up the phone.

At this point, once you have been contacted there is a fair chance that you do indeed have malware of some sort on your computer, likely gained from the people who called you, or asked you to call in to them. If you have been through this scenario, and especially if they were allowed access to your remotely access your computer, there is always the possibility that they have installed programs that can leave you vulnerable to hackers or further infections. It would be a good idea to seek a local technician to take a look at your system and see what issues may exist.

By PC Geeks / Malware and Virus Issues / / 0 Comments

Does My Computer Have A Virus?

Slow Computer Response

Is your computer running very slowly? A common symptom of a virus is much slower than normal computer performance. However, there can be other reasons for slow performance, including a hard disk that needs defragmenting, a computer that needs more memory (RAM), or the existence of spyware or adware. For more information about spyware and virus removal, contact a local PC Geeks Computer Technician!

Frequent Error Messages

Are you getting unexpected error messages, or are programs starting automatically? Some viruses can cause damage to Windows or some of your programs. The results of this damage might include messages appearing unexpectedly, programs starting or closing automatically, or Windows shutting down suddenly.

Hard Drive Working Harder Than Normal

Is your modem or hard disk working overtime? An e?mail virus works by sending many copies of itself by e?mail. One indicator of this is that the activity light on your broadband or external modem is constantly lit; another is the sound of your computer’s hard disk continually working. These are not always symptoms of a computer virus, but when combined with other problems, can indicate a virus infection.

To check for viruses, scan your computer with an antivirus software. New viruses appear every day, so keeping your antivirus software up-to-date is very important. For more information about computer security, go to the Security at Home page on the Microsoft website. To learn how to remove malicious software (malware) from your computer, go to the Microsoft Safety Scanner webpage.

Does My Computer Have A Virus? Read the full article here or Call PC Geeks!

Does My Computer Have A Virus?

By PC Geeks / Malware and Virus Issues / / 0 Comments

Malware is software written to infect computers and commit crimes such as fraud and identity theft. It has become big business in the past few years. As a result, if you use a computer for web surfing, shopping, banking, email, instant messaging, and gaming without proper protection, you are putting yourself at high risk of being victimized.

Keep your computer up-to-date

The vast majority of malware infections exploit security holes, so the most important part of PC hygiene is to keep all your software up to date. Microsoft releases patches on the second Tuesday of each month, so either let your PC install them automatically, or install them promptly. Once a patch is released, malware programmers can reverse-engineer the fix to find the security hole and exploit it.

Some other programs – including the Firefox and Google Chrome browsers – will also install patches automatically. This is almost always a good idea for home users.

Install Anti-virus software

Anti-virus software safeguards against Trojans, hackers, spyware, and more. The anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, anti-spam, anti-phishing, and backup technologies work together to combat today’s advanced multi-faceted attacks. It scans disks, email attachments, files downloaded from the web, and documents generated by word processing and spreadsheet programs.

Call PC Geeks

Malware is not just a nuisance issue. While malicious software can be cleaned from a system, newer generations also introduce data miners that can store that information and sell it. That could mean that if banking or tax information was in the computer when the malware infected it, personal information could be all over the world in no time.

Some companies offer to clean it for you, but that may not be the right solution.

Our technicians evaluate your computer to determine whether a cleaning or a re-installation of your operating system is needed. People are often surprised at our affordable pricing for these services, call PC Geeks today to learn more!