In the course of our every day business, my company is frequented by a good number of customers that have a common problem: malware infections. These can come in a variety of forms and delivery methods, but lately, I’m seeing a good number of these that follow a common thread: they offer a fix should you provide payment information. This type of malware can be known as “ransomware” and today I’d like to address a couple of these nasty predators that I’ve seen as of late on my clients’ computers.
For malware, one of the frequent flyers that we have boarding our clients’ PCs is the FBI virus. This repeat offender can come in a variety of flavors, but once it presents itself on the target computer, you’ll see an alert claiming that your computer is blocked due to a violation of the Copyright and Related Rights Law or some other bogus reason, ranging from distribution of pornographic content or spreading of malware. This ransomware prompts you to rid yourself of this nightmare by paying a $100 or $200 fine. The last thing you want to do is give them a credit card or pay through PayPal to pay this fine, as it would then be waypoint for a multitude of illicit purchases.
Another type of ransomware that’s been around for quite a while but still shows up is the fake antivirus warning. You’ll get a window that pops up letting you know that your computer has potential infections or security flaws prompting you to run a scan to remove them. Of course, that’s the last thing you’ll want to do, because this will allow more infections to be propagated onto your PC. At some point, the program will offer to remove these infections once you pay the price for the software, another trick to gain access to your payment information, opening the door for plenty of malfeasance at your expense.
There are a variety of solutions to deal with these infections and all of which will require access to an uninfected PC to get the tools necessary to deal with the infected machine. To prevent this, keep your antivirus and antimalware software updated and run them daily. Many will allow you to automate this process so that it happens at night, which can keep your PC running smoothly while you sleep. One of my favorites for antimalware protection is Malwarebytes Pro, which blocks malicious activity in real-time, updates automatically, and can be scheduled for optimum protection. It also happens to be my go-to utility for dealing with infected machines.
Another big recommendation for stemming the flow of malware on your PC is to upgrade your OS. I know, XP has been so dependable for so long, but it is at the end of its life cycle and there will be no more security patches from Microsoft. Windows 7 is quite a bit better at keeping your computer safe, but it still encounters a fair share of malware infections. I don’t recommend an upgrade to Windows 8 for anyone at this point, so stick to Windows 7 if at all possible.
Whatever you do, always install a trusted antivirus program and another antimalware program and run them daily without fail. If you don’t, you WILL get infected if your computer is connected to the Internet. Of course, if you need more advice or can’t get rid of an infection, I invite you to call me (337-214-1172) or come by Bayou Technologies, located at 3026 Ryan Street in Lake Charles. We’re always ready to help you with your computer needs.