Sunday, August 19, 2012

What to do in case of a Malware Attack

What prompts me to write this is today I clicked on a link in Digg and it launched a malware attack on my computer. Luckily when the pop up happened I knew what to do - which was NOT click on anything in the webpage. I just opened my task manager and stopped Internet Explorer before any damage could be done.

I'm fortunate it was a lower grade attack and that solved the problem. I've dealt with this shit before so hopefully this may be helpful to some of you

For those not familiar with Malware - it is a malicious software that can attack your computer via an e-mail attachment or script running on a web page. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs.

One of the most common attacks I see lately is when a web page seizes control of your browser (like Internet explorer) telling you your PC is infected - here is a screenshot of one of the variety of different attacks also known as scareware

Once infected your machine will be locked out of websites, your antivirus turned off and most, if not all, internet communications blocked.

The goal of this particular product is not just to load your PC with virus, but to also con you into paying the website for the "cure" to fix the Malware. You'd be surprised at how many people actually do this.

Here are a few easy steps to prevent Malware attacks and also to deal with them if you become infected

Not getting the Malware is the best possible option, but you'll find it hidden in some of the most popular websites including Digg, Reddit and Google image search results. Here are a few tools, listed in no particular order you may want to install

1. Firefox Browser - No Script and Adblock + pop-up - Both of these tools are pretty effective in preventing scripts from running on web pages
2. Internet Explorer - No scripting plug ins available but you can filter active x components and has a pop up blocker that works sometimes
3. Web of Trust - a plug in warning system that blocks known Malware websites (also works well for Parental controls) in IE or Firefox
4. Malwarebytes - a Free Malware identification and elimination tool. Running a scan weekly is a good way to identify and kill malicious software. This is a great product and they even offer forums full of people very willing to try and help
5. Spybot Seek and Destroy - Another free Malware tool that works very well
Some of the Malware out there can totally disable any of these tools. In those cases there are a couple things you can try. Restart the machine in Safe mode then run Malwarebytes or Spybot is the first. Depending on the Malware it may fix the problem or you may have to try to restore to a previous date.

The worst case scenario is a total wipe of your machine and starting over. This is quite painful and, if you have to do it, hopefully you have all of our files, documents, pictures, etc. backed up

Good Luck and please feel free to ask any questions

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