STEPS TO TAKE IF YOUR COMPUTER SYSTEM HAS MALWARE.
Last week we discussed what we should do if we have come to believe that we have malware. What signs we look for in our computer system, etc. Now we need to go a little deeper into what to do when we come to that conclusion.
Before we dig into that, let me mention the little known fact that if you have a screen pop up saying something like:"virus detected,"that doesn't mean you necessarily have a virus in your computer system. It could mean that you downloaded a file and your anti-virus software detected a virus and removed it before it could become a problem. It also could mean that a malicious file on an infected web page could have been detected and was dealt with. If you see that screen, don't worry, a lot but you might want to go into your anti-virus program and check its quarantine or its detection logs to view more information about the exact viruses and what action was taken. Do this as an educational experience. You can't know too much about the dangers to your computer system.
So today let's talk a little about what we should consider when we come to the firm conclusion that we have, indeed, become infected with a virus or viruses.
This doesn't seem to be common knowledge, but I have found out from extensive reading that while many viruses and other types of malware are designed because the sender loves chaos, more and more malware at this time is being used by organized crime in order to steal credit card numbers from you as well as other sensitive data.
I know a number of people who purchased fairly good quality anti-virus software and then let it expire. Not too much you can do more foolish than that.
Many people I have known found viruses and then purchased appropriate software and considered the problem solved, as the software would detect and destroy the infection. Actually if I had a virus on a program I cared about I would immediately, after clearing my machine, install a new version of the program. Why would you take a chance? I can't imagine why someone would. These are sensitive pieces of equipment and should be treated with respect.
If you are not going to care for them, why should you expect them to care for you and all you've built.
Possibly you have an anti-virus program but you get the idea that you have viruses that it is not detecting. Possible? Sure. But you can get another opinion on this malware with another type of product. A variety of providers make a one-time scanning tool. These programs will download into your computer system and do a quick scan without a long installation process. You might not know that you cannot have multiple anti-virus products operating at the same time so this allows you to scan with another anti-virus software without the hassle of uninstalling your current anti-virus program. See?
Now what happens if you are right and the viruses are in your computer system and were not detected by your current software? Perhaps your anti-virus software is not up to the job. Maybe you obtained one of those free anti-virus programs widely available on the internet and you took it thinking you were crafty and thereby saved some money. Sorry, it was not crafty, at all.
But back to the problem: You might want to uninstall your thrifty-bargain software and purchase something that will actually protect what you've worked for. You need to decide what you need; not what others think you need. Or what others want to sell you. But you need knowledge to make that decision.
You might find that some viruses and other types of malware tend to dig their hooks deep into your system, making them very difficult to remove from your computer system. This can be the case especially if the viruses have infected your system earlier and has had time to run crazy and possibly download types of malware. The competent and appropriate software you have now purchased is not always able to root out infections already in the system.
There is another method you can use with the "safe mode" from your Windows programs but if you're not really knowledgeable about the program I would suggest an IT person or just skip it and go on to the next idea.
The best thing here is to obtain a new, clean version of the program. Then you have no worries about the program. I feel I have to mention the "Nuclear Option." This is a possible procedure but I would suggest this done only by a IT person. Not your nephew who is eleven but works really well with computers.
Anyway, this is it: If the malware has so damaged your computer system that Windows still isn't working properly after the viruses have been successfully removed, you might want to revert your computer to its factory state. Many computers come from the factory with what are called "restore partitions" that you can access by pressing a certain key during your booting process. You probably received a Windows installer disc when you purchased the computer system and you can use this here. Please keep in mind that this will delete the files and programs on your computer so be sure important data is backed up prior to any reinstall. Probably enough data for today.