Q: I have heard you use the word Malware frequently. What is Malware?
A: Good question. Turns out there are several things that I call Malware. The classical malware that most are familiar with is computer viruses. These “infect” your machine and then use your machine to do whatever the virus wants including infecting other machines. But now hackers and other bad actors use machines that they have infected to send out bad software to sit in your machine and send back data such as login names, PWs, account numbers to their host machines. These are bad things so I call this software malware.

Q: I can understand that.
A: But there are other things that I consider “Malware”. Sometimes you type in a web page and expect to go to it but instead you are directed someplace else completely. Sometimes you find a different home page on your browser. Sometimes you see popups that tell you that your machine is infected, call this number. There are lots of things like this that try and get you to buy a service or give a CC number for something you don’t want or need. Some people call this Adware, I call it another form of Malware. It’s a program that you did not intentionally put on your machine and is doing something that you don’t want.

Q: But I thought programs like McAfee, Avast, Norton and others would protect me from this.
A: Sometimes yes, Sometimes no. This kind of attack can hit your machine before the anti-malware programs have developed a defense against it. And then there is the question of what is malware and what is not. And there are many ways that malware can get on your machine such as loading along with a desirable software update that you have specifically allowed on your machine.

Q: What do you suggest to protect your machine?
A: First, watch what you are doing when loading software, browsing the internet and reading email. If it looks fishy don’t do it. Second have one good anti-malware program, on your machine. Not 3 or 4, just one good program. This protects your machine while not bogging it down.

Q: Do you have a program you like?
A: We like Microsoft Defender or Security Essentials. It comes with Windows, it’s updated regularly and it is a reasonably strong program.

Q: OK, but somehow I got a bunch of malware on my machine. How do I get rid of it?
A: We at PC Applications have tools that we can use to remove unwanted malware and get your machine operating normally again. With our PC Cleanup service we clean malware and also apply updates to your system to protect it from future attacks by similar malware.