How do I know if I am infected and need a virus removal service?
An infected computer may tell you in no uncertain terms you are infected with a bold information box, screaming an ominous message across the screen “Warning! Your computer is infected! All of your files will be lost!”. Other times, symptoms of infection may be something as simple as it just doesn’t feel right when you are using the computer.
Super slow at start up...
Maybe is it’s super slow at start up or you do a search in your favorite web browser and lo and behold, it serves you garbage that is clearly unrelated to what you really need to know. Perhaps the computer isn’t responding the way it has in the past, or maybe the wrong programs are launching when you double click a file. Sometimes it can feel like there is just something going on in the background – like your computer is distracted by something else – as if it has something more important going on than what you want it do? Craziness. Perhaps you are just trying to uninstall a program and it simply won’t go away, this could be a malicious program.
Trying to uninstall a program and it simply won’t go away...
Perhaps you are trying to uninstall a program and it simply won’t go away, this could be a malicious program or it could just be legitimate one that is corrupt. It is a myth that Apple computers can’t get infected with viruses, spyware, and malware! Unfortunately, all of these things can happen to Windows and Mac computers.
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Geek in Pink stands behind their work, and they really do.
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How did I get infected with a computer virus?
While computer virus infections are still more prevalent in computers with Windows operating systems, we have seen more Macbooks and iMacs with suspected viruses and malware brought in over the last few years compared to ten years ago. Of course sometimes, it’s easy to tell that you are infected because your legitimate antivirus software tells you are. The harder part is often telling if the message is from your actual antivirus or if it is a malicious software trying to pose as your anti-virus software and trick you into installing something else.
It does seem computer virus infections strike when it’s least convenient. But think about it: is it ever a convenient time to be without your computer? Not really. I will say, it seems many people see early warning signs and ignore them until they are forced to a grinding halt, where they can no longer do tasks on their computer.
Computer infection is a broad term used to describe an installation of an unwanted program or file, or even a malicious modification of an existing program, that is unintended or unknown to the rightful owner of the computer. I say “owner” because there are some circumstances where programs that are considered spyware, or other monitoring software, are installed by employers or parents to monitor the behavior of other users. So assuming you fit that category: you suspect you have unwanted and potentially harmful software on your computer.
These are some of the common ways to get infected with a computer virus and some not so common ways to get infected with: spyware, viruses, PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), rootkits, trojans, worms, bots and about any other malware you can think of:
Downloading free stuff on the Internet
Downloading free stuff on the Internet – If you are getting something for free that is typically paid for, there’s a good reason to hesitate. The more expensive or rare the “something” is that is being offered for free, the greater the reason to pause. There’s a very good chance that it’s not what it appears to be – and since you are intentionally downloading it and hitting “next” and “yes” and “agree” all along the way as it’s installing, this can be some of the most dangerous and difficult software to get rid of. This is because it’s gotten past all the computer’s user account controls to allow full installation and permission.
Email – Opening infected programs, files, or malicious links attached to an email are a very common cause of infection. Keep in mind these email messages may even appear to be from someone you know. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are someone you think you know, or that your friend even knows that the message was sent.
Extras – Sometimes we mean to install a particular program and all the stars have aligned. We know it’s legitimate, from a credible source, and maybe even free. Yet something still goes wrong; we got a little extra program we didn’t want. The good news is this one is often easy to avoid and remedy if needed. When you are initially installing software, whenever given the option to “see more options,” “customize,” or go to “advanced” setup, take that opportunity. You may still choose the default entry that is automatically entered along the way, but there may also be options to uncheck the “extras” you don’t want. If you already went through the express settings, you can uninstall the extra programs you don’t want if they were from a credible source to begin with.
USB or Flash Drives
USB or Flash Drives – Using a compromised flash drive that automatically installs unwanted software can also cause infections. Remember the advice in elementary school: “don’t use other people’s combs, you might get infected.” Same thing for flash drives: don’t use other people’s flash drives or loan them yours without being aware of what the gamble actually is. Keep in mind your friend likely doesn’t know that their flash drive is infected. This often isn’t purposeful on their part, any more than your best friend loaning you her comb and giving you lice in the second grade.
Updates not installed on legitimate software...
Updates not installed on legitimate software that you do mean to have – this exposes a vulnerability in which potential malware can gain a foothold to become a full blown infection. Keep your Internet browsers, operating systems, and other programs up to date by allowing the program to look for updates and install them or manually seek out the software’s publisher and look for updates. Most modern programs will “call home” to see if there are updates available. Don’t ignore security updates in particular (side note: updates and upgrades are not the same, but we’ll save that for a blog post sometime).
Bad or careless surfing habits
Bad or careless surfing habits – this can be as innocent as poor typing that lands you on a website other than what you intended. This was VERY common a few years ago, but less so now as big companies have fortunately acquired the common misspelled variations of their sites to capture our visits. Sometimes we get to the site we intended to for the content, but ended up getting a something a little extra we didn’t bargain for. Of course adult content sites is often the first to come to mind, but it’s not necessarily the most prevalent category to get an accidental infection; other common categories include cheat code sites for gamers, coupons and “free offer” sites, free software sites, and, to add insult to injury, sites claiming to offer free virus removal. That’s not say all sites in these categories are infectious; it’s just list of places that people report they have been when they suspect they got infected. Often times the time stamp on the infected files lines up with what the customer suspected!
Expired Antivirus software or Antivirus software
Expired anti-virus software or anti-virus software that has not been updated – Anti-malware software relies on “definitions” to know what to find and try to eliminate. Each virus, every piece of malware, has specific features and characteristics which combined make a “signature” for that particular malware. As new malicious programs are developed, anti-virus software companies scramble to gather that information, add that signature to its definitions of what to look for, then write a code to block the bad program. Whether you have a free or paid subscription for an anti-virus software, if you don’t update your program it will not be effective as new strains of malware hit.
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