Is your computer performing slower than normal? Is some of your data missing? Maybe you’ve seen a bit too many pop-ups lately? You might have a virus or some other form of malware damaging your computer. When it comes to malware, there’s always one common question that we’ve all had. Does it actually damage your computer? The answer is yes, yes it does. Much like we can get sick with a virus, our computers can also get infected with viruses, worms and other kinds of malware. But not to worry, there’s a solution. Sort of.
Problem: There are several different types of malware aside from viruses including trojans, worms, spyware, and scareware.
- A virus specifically is a program that copies itself and infects the computer, spreading from one computer to another just like a real sickness.
- Trojans work just like their name suggests, as applications that look normal but contain secret coding doing something else such as allowing someone else to control your computer.
- Much like viruses, worms infect your computer through the network by sending copies of themselves to other PCs.
- Scareware tricks the user by getting them to download what appears to be an antivirus app, then tells the user their computer is full of viruses and ultimately holds your computer hostage until you pay a fee to clean the viruses.
- Spyware is software installed that collects your information without your knowledge and sends it back to the creator.
Solution: With so many malwares circulating it may seem like getting one is inevitable, but there are ways to prevent them. First, protect your computer with an antivirus/anti-malware program. If you’re operating a Windows 10 or a Mac, they come with built-in security features that automatically prevent malware and warn the user against unknown application installations. Make sure those features are always enabled.
Second, always be aware of false anti-malware apps. These usually come in the form of a pop-up that will try to alert you that your computer has a virus or some type of malware. Do not follow the instructions, or call any number prompted. Instead, close all of your browsing windows and use your computer’s own malware protection programs to do a thorough scan of the computer. Another thing to always be aware of is security updates. Because updates are typically pushed when security vulnerabilities are found, making sure your computer and web browser are always up-to-date ensures that the latest security updates are running.
Last but not least, always use strong, unique passwords to protect your personal information. It may be tempting to use the same password for every app, but having unique, different passwords for every app prevents hackers from gaining access to everything all at once.