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Malware - What is it?

Malware is short for MALicious softWARE. All computers use software to run. Software can be divided into three categories: Operating System software, such as Windows, Mac OS X, Unix or Linux, Application software, such as Word, Firefox, or games, and Malware, which is any software that is installed without the users knowledge for the purpose of destruction or stealth processes.

Virus Removal

Virus is the most common term for malware, although viruses are no longer the most common type of malware. Historically, a virus' main function is to disable a computer, but not before it can propagate itself to other computers. Viruses used to spread through infected floppy disks, then later through email attachments. Now viruses are embedded into web pages or emails that take on the characteristics of web pages. All computers need to have an antivirus (AV) program installed to protect from such threats. However, an AV program cannot be proactive in preventing virus infection. AV software depends on virus definition updates that can detect viruses before they can install themselves onto the computer hard drive. AV software is useless without constant updating, and even then unknown viruses with no fingerprint can slip through AV software and infect a computer or even entire networks.

A virus is usually packaged with a worm. A worm is a piece of software whose sole purpose is to infect as many computers as possible. The worm usually has a built in email program that will distribute itself to every email address in the infected computers address book. When a recipient included in the address book mailing receives the email, and it looks to be from a trusted source, the unknowing user will open the email and the worm will infect that computer and the process continues. Such infamous uses of worms include the I Love You and Melissa viruses of the early 2000's.

Viruses are also known as Trojan Horses. A trojan horse looks harmless, as it did to the inhabitants of the city of Troy, but danger lurks inside. Most free software on the Internet is usually bundled with a Trojan Horse. The "harmless" software, such as an attractive screensaver or cute mouse pointer, entices the user to install the software, but once installed it unleashes its destructive alternate programming.

Once a virus has infected a computer, the AV software cannot remove it. AV software is good for preventing viruses, but will not remove a virus once it has taken root. Allnighter Designs can remove a virus once it has infected a computer. Most times, there are tools distributed by the AV companies that can remove a virus, but in extreme cases, computer data will have to be backed up to removable media, and the computer restored to factory condition. All programs and settings will have to be reinstalled, then the data restored. This can often be a painstaking process, but when complete, the computer will run as good as, if not better, than it did before the infection.

Spyware Removal

Spyware does exactly what its name implies: it spies on you. When installed, spyware will report back to a server somewhere on the Internet with information on what web pages you have visited, what documents you have created or edited, or in the worst cases, your personal information, such as banking or credit card information for use in identity theft. Spyware tries to hide itself so the user does not know it is running. The most cunning spyware coders write programs that take up so little resources that the user will not notice any effect on the computers performance. Most newer AV software includes spyware detection. However, the sheer number of spyware applications that are released each day make it hard for the AV companies to keep up. The most prevalent form of spyware installations is included in peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs, such as KaZaa, Grokster, Morpheus, and Limewire. Because these programs are predominantly used for illegal downloading of copyrighted music and movies, users must agree to install the spyware right in the software end user licensing agreement (EULA). Because no one really reads or understands what is in the EULA, the spyware is installed willingly onto the computer. Spyware can be included with any free software found on the Internet. Spyware is what keeps the software free. Allnighter Designs has tools to remove spyware from your computer. Unlike viruses, spyware can usually be removed without having to erase the hard drive and install everything from scratch.

Adware Removal

Adware software is designed for the purpose of playing, displaying, or generating advertisements, usually in the form of popup windows. Most adware is harmless, and is a way of allowing a developer to keep software free by recovering revenue from the advertisers. However, some adware software can include spyware, or the popups can literally take over the computer, making it difficult for the computer to stay focused on the task at hand. Allnighter Designs can remove the adware from your computer, and adware is usually the easiest type of malware to remove. We can stop those annoying popups, and get you back to using your computer the way you want to use it.