Malware (Malicious Software) gains access to a computer two ways:
- The malware exploits a vulnerability to gain access to the computer. This vulnerability could be in the operating system or a running application such as the web browser.
- The malware relies on user interaction to gain access to the computer. Examples include but aren’t limited to infected USB drives, infected Office documents and malicious email attachments.
Kinds of malware
- Adware – Deliver advertisements to the user. May be distributed with ‘free’ software or as part of other malware.
- Ransomware – Holds the system or information on the system hostage while demanding payment. May spread through infected files or like a worm.
- PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) – Software that seems innocuous but is functionally similar to other categories of malware such as adware, spyware and Trojans. An example would be MySearchBar.
- Rootkit – Malicious software that operates at the system level and hides its presence from the operating system and users.
- Spyware – Monitors user activity. Distributed via ‘free’ software or as a part of other malware.
- Trojan – Disguises itself as a normal file or program. Can provide remote access, monitor activity, and/or download additional malware.
- Virus – Replicates and spreads to other computers by attaching itself to files, documents or programs. Typically requires user interaction to spread.
- Worm – Crawl through a network by exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system. Doesn’t require user interaction to spread.
- DO install comprehensive security software that includes a firewall, such as Sophos Anti-virus. Download it for free. Ensure that your security software includes real-time protection and regularly scans the system for malware.
- DO keep the operating system and all software up to date – particularly web browsers and plugins such as Flash, Java, QuickTime, etc.
- DO scan any attachment with your antivirus solution before opening.
- DO beware of phone calls, email or Internet pop-ups offering to help fix your computer. Microsoft will not call you out of the blue to inform you of a problem on your computer.
- DON'T use USB drives, SD Cards or other media from unknown sources.
- DON'T download software from unknown sources.
- DON'T open attachments from unknown sources.
- DON'T open unexpected attachments from known sources without verifying with the sender.
- Back up your data BEFORE your computer is infected, crashes or breaks on a separate device or in another location.
- Immediately remove the infected machine from the network/Internet.
- Perform a full system scan with your antivirus or anti-malware software.
- Do not trust USB drives, SD cards, etc that were recently connected to the infected computer.
- If necessary, use a ‘clean’ computer to look up malware identified by the scan and/or download removal tools from your antivirus or anti-malware company.
- Know your limitations. If you are not comfortable attempting to remove an infection or are having difficulty removing an infection, contact an IT professional. Reach the ITS Service Desk at (304) 293-4444, ITSHelp@mail.wvu.edu or it.wvu.edu/help.
- If necessary, restore the computer to the factory settings.
- Once the infection is removed and your antivirus/antimalware software is fully up to date, scan all removable media.