Malware Begone: A Comprehensive Guide to Removing Threats


Like the flu, malware can infect computers, networks, tablets, and mobile devices. It can steal or encrypt data, alter or hijack core computing functions, and monitor end users’ computer activity without their knowledge. It can also hide deep in your system and evade detection by antimalware programs. It’s no wonder that more and more people rely on malware-removal tools to help protect their devices.

What Is Malware?

Before thinking of how to get rid of malware, it is essential to understand what malware is. Malware is software designed to steal, encrypt, or delete data, spy on activity, corrupt the system, and otherwise wreak havoc on PCs, smartphones, tablets, and enterprise systems. It is often hidden and evades detection, making removing it difficult once a device becomes infected. Malware comes in various forms: viruses, spyware, legitimate programs bundled with malware, backdoors, worms, adware, keyloggers, ransomware, and more. The evolution of malware tracks the growth of technology, developing alongside the technologies businesses use. Viruses, for example, developed simultaneously as email and evolved to take advantage of vulnerabilities in that technology. For malware to do its work, it typically needs you to do something to trigger it, such as clicking a link or opening an attachment. Then, it will execute its payload, which may be anything from stealing sensitive information to encrypting your files and demanding a ransom to decode them. Some types of malware, such as logic and time bombs, are designed to lie dormant until triggered by a specific condition, such as a certain date or hour.

What Are The Types Of Malware?

Numerous types of malware can penetrate your computer, mobile device, or other connected device. The threats include viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware, and more. They can steal personal information, encrypt data, and cause other harm to your systems. Criminals use these tools to gain access to financial information, login information, medical records, and more. Malware can be contracted when you visit a hacked website, download infected files, install programs from untrustworthy providers, open an email attachment (malspam), click on a malicious link in a text or chat message, or through a direct download of an application without an official app store. Malware can also invade your mobile devices through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. Viruses are a common type of malware that infects programs by overwriting code or forcing them to import and run the malicious program. Worms are similar in that they spread to other computers by scanning for vulnerable systems or through phishing emails. Spyware is software that tracks a user’s activity, often recording keystrokes, to send back to criminals. The types of malware continue to evolve and change with the technology businesses adopt. New evasion and obfuscation techniques enable malware to hide from antivirus software, antimalware programs, and operating systems. Some examples of these techniques include obfuscation to obscure the presence of malware; polymorphic behavior that continually changes underlying code to elude detection; anti-sandbox technology that detects when a system is running in a sandbox environment and delays its execution; and fileless malware that resides only in memory to avoid discovery by antivirus or other programs.

What Are The Symptoms Of Malware?

As you use the Internet, malware can infiltrate your PC and Mac to expose private information to cybercriminals. Some types of malware crack weak passwords, spy on you through infected websites and applications, and steal your GPS location and financial data. Others lock up essential files and demand a ransom to unlock them. The best way to identify a virus is to learn the common symptoms of infection. Some of the most common signs of malware infection include invasive pop-up ads that show up out of nowhere and send you to suspicious sites or download more malicious software. You might also notice a sudden increase in your data usage or bogus charges on your phone bill resulting from stolen information. If you see any of these symptoms, disconnect your computer from the Internet to prevent malware from spreading or communicating with its author and other computers and devices. You can then scan the system with an antimalware tool like Malwarebytes, which you can download on another device and save to a flash drive to run on the infected machine. Some advanced forms of malware, such as rootkits and boot kits, hide deep within the operating system and are difficult to remove without reinstalling the OS. If so, contact a professional with access to special removal tools and factory restore options.

How To Remove Malware

Malware can hide deep within your computer and use your connection to send information, steal login credentials, or wreak havoc. If you’re worried you have malware, run a threat scan with reputable antivirus software or specialized tools like rootkit detectors to uncover and remove it. If your device is still infected, it may be best to contact a professional for more help since they have the tools and experience to tackle complicated infections. The most common signs of malware infection include a significantly slowed computer, regular and consistent pop-up ads, and the system crashing unintentionally. Additionally, you may notice unfamiliar icons on your desktop, unexpected error messages, or a sudden lack of hard drive space. If you aren’t sure what type of malware is infected with your device, you can try restarting it into safe mode to see if this helps. This will start Windows with only the most essential files, programs, and drivers loaded, which may make it easier to spot hidden malware. If you’re uncomfortable performing this step, you can always reinstall the operating system on your device. Though this is a drastic course of action, it’s the most effective way to remove malware and restore your device to its factory settings. Be sure to back up all of your data before you do so, though, as you’ll lose any files stored on the device that have yet to be backed up elsewhere.

Also Read: The Role of Identity and Access Management in Strengthening Cybersecurity

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