Regular visitors to, and readers of, this website and integrated blog will have noted several computer virus (malware) related articles have been published over the last couple of months. The overall intention was to provide fellow users of electronic devices (computer, tablet, e-readers, smartphones, etc.) with some insight into the topic and to try and reassure, no matter how serious an attack may appear, it may almost always be dealt with by one means or another.
The topic is a vast and complex one with many variations making it unrealistic to have tried to deal with every type of possible infection. Consequently, only the more well known/frequently heard of ones have been discussed including ransomeware, spyware, trojan, etc. Just like storms and hurricanes each new malware (virus) is given a label/title/name. In general, the majority of malware impact devices in similar ways and therefore the advice given within the articles should be sufficient to enable users to detect and deal with most. In addition, the recommended preventative actions should help users protect their devices from all types of attack.
Because the articles have been spread across a number of weeks it is thought readers may appreciate having all the information available in one, clearly entitled, article (this article). A complete list of previous articles, together with links, is provided further down.
Before setting out the list it may be useful to remind readers of the need for constant vigilance and caution. Cyber criminals (what else may they be called?) are constantly developing new malware and, consequently, users should never let their guard down. Very frustrating but it has to be accepted this is the world today. In addition, new anomalies may come to light e.g. recently (January 2018) it was discovered intel computer microchips created since the 1990s had a built-in vulnerability. Thankfully, this had not been previously spotted by those intent upon exploiting the issue and the anomaly was quickly secured. Therefore, though in danger of boring readers with the constant repetition, here, again, is the list of suggested preventative actions users should exercise in their daily online routines:
- Avoid opening unverified e-mails or clicking upon links contained in them.
- Avoid visiting unknown websites (includes blogs) or following links to one if it has been provided by someone not known or not from a recognised group.
- Check social media sharable items are from a recognised/validated source.
- Do not download software from an unknown company or source.
- Do not download anything from an unconfirmed website or contained in an advertisement by unknown company or person.
- Carry out regular scans. (Antivirus software usually contains the option for both full and quick scans.)
- Do consistently backup files. (Suggested at least two or three backups on different devises that are stored in separate locations e.g. USB, Hard-drive backup devises, CD (for older computers), etc.)
- Do regularly update software: programmes, applications, antivirus systems, etc. (New versions of malware are constantly devised and detected and most software companies update their programmes to counter attacks from them (each new virus requires a new resolution). Not to regularly update the computer software may leave it vulnerable to attack from the newer viruses.)
- Ensure the latest browser versions are being used.
Click on article title to read the full transcript.
As implied, this provides an introduction to the topic of malware (computer viruses) including: Defining what they are; Explaining cyber criminal’s intentions; Overview of how malware may impact a device; Suggested possible resolutions.
Explains what these are; How they impact devices; How they spread; Actions to deal with them.
Outlines the function of each; Shows how some may actually be legitimate; Suggests how malicious ones may be detected; Provides insights into what to do when infection discovered.
Describes how these are different to the usual malware (viruses); How they impact and manipulate a device; What the purpose is; How to detect; How to deal with.
Provides a concise overview of available antivirus software and details of software that may be used to clear a device of unwanted programmes and files.
Regrettably, cyber criminals and computer viruses are here to stay. Along with the constant development of computer programmes and systems, cyber criminals are devising new and increasingly devious malware.
Preventative actions should always be part of a users daily routine. Users may never relax: that seemingly friendly contact may just be another attempt to gain control of a device; to obtain personal information; or to extract finances. The days of being able to trust without question have passed meaning every connection should be carefully examined before any positive action is taken.
It is necessary to continually bear in mind new malware are constantly in development. Cyber criminals are not about to disappear. If anything, they are likely to be on the increase.
It is sad that there have to be so many negative comments above but that is now the reality of online life. Of course, people should continue to seek out the best, after all not everyone is a crook. It is just there should also be an awareness of the possibility of attack.
It is hoped those reading this article will be spared the indignity of such attacks as have been mentioned throughout this series; that they may enjoy a peaceful and fearless life.
Disclaimer: The writer is not a computer programmer or in any other way a computer software expert. What is shared has been learnt through limited personal experience and/or through research. Consequently, though every effort has been made, total accuracy of all the above information cannot be guaranteed.