OK, I can hear you say, I have an Antivirus, this should protect me from everything, including malware, right?
This may not always be the case.
I use Microsoft Security Essentials (or with its new name Windows Defender) to protect my computer against daily threats. I do not click on strange mails with strange extensions, I do not click on every link I see through the internet. Occasionally I feel something is wrong with my computer and check for malware presence and find out that I have threats installed to my machine. When did I install that toolbar ?
I am not saying this to badmouth Windows Defender, it is a great piece of software, aimed at stopping viruses and it is good at it. But how do I get these ? Lets start with the basics.
What is the difference between a virus and malware ?
A virus is a malicious code that attaches itself to one of your files and spreads by infecting other files, transferring itself at the first chance to another computer, and keeping up the pace until a decent antivirus tool eliminates it. (very much like a real virus)
Malware is malicious software that runs on your computer, which can spy on you, send mass e-mails on your behalf, steal your passwords and so on. Its aim is not to destroy but steal from you.
How do we get infected with Malware ?
Assuming that we have some sort of protection against viruses, how can we protect ourselves from malware would be a good question to ask. Now I have realized I have repeated myself but cannot go back to correct it.
Malware can reach your computer via your browser (or with some mail with a strange file attached). This is often the case with me as I like to wander in the darkest corners of the internet, searching for mysterious .exe files (GiantTurtleOSXenablerforWindows.exe) or simply by visiting some websites which have questionable materials. (no, not necessarily what you think…)
I have a tendency to download everything I find, and I have it coming my way. I get mysterious pop ups or a strange toolbar every now and then.
You may be a beginner but I would like to think myself as a professional, if I get these, you should be getting them too. So what to do about this evil I have introduced you to ?
I use Malwarebytes Anti-malware to protect my computer from malware attacks. I find it very easy to use and professional. I know this sounds like an ad but I assure you it is not. I have tested many and have come to the conclusion that this tool is the best.
They have two versions, a Free and Premium. The free version does not provide real-time protection and lacks some features, but it is good enough to see whether you have malware installed in your system or not. It also cleans them, the catch is real-time protection, this is like going to a doctor after you get the flu. The Premium version is like putting a mask on your face before you get infected, with the following extras: (yup, I copied them shamelessly from their website)
- Real-time active malware prevention engine blocks known threats
- Heuristic protection prevents new zero day malware infections
- Malicious website protection blocks access to known and zero day malicious web content
- Automatic priority updates and scheduled scanning
- Blazing fast flash scans
I will focus on the Free version for today, let’s get started:
1. Download the latest version here.
2. Install the software
3. You will be greeted with the following screen:
4. Click on Fix Now and let it work a while, it will look like this:
5. If you end up like this, kudos to you, either you are a saint or you recently set up your computer from scratch.
6. You will generally end up like this : (just an example)
Choose Apply Actions, and you are clean. Sometimes it may ask to restart the computer to clean properly, when asked to do so, restart your computer.
This is a great tool but the free version helps after you get infected, to protect yourself completely and surf without fear, you should be getting the premium version, it is worth it and 1 license is good for 3 computers as of this writing.