Specialists Malware/Virus Removal

                                VIRUS & MALWARE DEFINITIONS

**DML offers free PC Maintenance training to help prevent common software issues**

What is a Computer Virus?

"Not to be confused with Worm (software)  or Trojan Horse. computer virus is a type of malware that, when executed, replicates by inserting copies of itself (possibly modified) into other computer programs, data files, or the boot sector of the hard drive; when this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then said to be "infected".  Viruses often perform some type of harmful activity on infected hosts, such as stealing hard disk space or CPU time, accessing private information, corrupting data, displaying political or humorous messages on the user's screen, spamming their contacts, or logging their keystrokes. However, not all viruses carry a destructive payload or attempt to hide themselves—the defining characteristic of viruses is that they are self-replicating computer programs which install themselves without the user's consent.

Computer viruses currently cause billions of dollars worth of economic damage each year, due to causing systems failure, wasting computer resources, corrupting data, increasing maintenance costs, etc. In response, free open-source, anti-virus tools have been developed, and a multi-billion dollar industry of anti virus software, vendors has cropped up, selling virus protection to Windows users. Unfortunately, no currently existing anti-virus software is able to catch all computer viruses (especially new ones); computer security researchers are actively searching for new ways to enable antivirus solutions to more effectively detect emerging viruses, before they have already become widely distributed."

For more information on Computer Viruses please visit:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_virus 

Is it true that MAC's don't get infected with viruses?

Yes, it is a fact that MAC machines do not get infected with viruses; however, they are vulnerable to many types of malware (usually when a non-Apple Store or a Windows Native Program is installed).

What is a Worm?

"A computer worm is a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers.  Often, it uses a computer network to spread itself, relying on security failures on the target computer to access it. Unlike a computer virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program.  Worms almost always cause at least some harm to the network, even if only by consuming bandwidth, whereas viruses almost always corrupt or modify files on a targeted computer.

Many worms that have been created are designed only to spread, and do not attempt to change the systems they pass through. However, as the Morris worm and Mydoom showed, even these "payload free" worms can cause major disruption by increasing network traffic and other unintended effects. A 'payload' is code in the worm designed to do more than spread the worm—it might delete files on a host system (e.g., the Explore Zip worm), encrypt files in a cryptoviral extortion attack, or send documents via e-mail. A very common payload for worms is to install a backdoor in the infected computer to allow the creation of a 'zombie' computer under control of the worm author. Networks of such machines are often referred to as botnets and are very commonly used by spam senders for sending junk email or to cloak their website's address.   Spammers are therefore thought to be a source of funding for the creation of such worms, and the worm writers have been caught selling lists of IP addresses of infected machines.  Others try to blackmail companies with threatened DOS attacks."

For more information on Computer Worms please visit:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_worm 

What is a Trojan?

"A Trojan horse, or Trojan, in computing is a non-self-replicating type of malware program containing malicious code that, when executed, carries out actions determined by the nature of the Trojan, typically causing loss or theft of data, and possible system harm. The term is derived from the story of the wooden horse used to trick defenders of Troy into taking concealed warriors into their city in ancient Greece, because computer Trojans often employ a form of social engineering, presenting themselves as routine, useful, or interesting in order to persuade victims to install them on their computers.

A Trojan often acts as a backdoor, contacting a controller which can then have unauthorized access to the affected computer.  The Trojan and backdoors are not themselves easily detectable, but if they carry out significant computing or communications activity may cause the computer to run noticeably slowly. Malicious programs are classified as Trojans if they do not attempt to inject themselves into other files (computer virus) or otherwise propagate themselves (worm). A computer may host a Trojan via a malicious program a user is duped into executing (often an e-mail attachment disguised to be unsuspicious, e.g., a routine form to be filled in) or by drive-by download.

For more information on Computer Trojans please visit: 

What is a Hijack?

The term "Hijack" is fairly new in the computer world today, but we will try our best to define it as best as the complicated world of computers has.  Due to the complexities of the different types of Hijacks, below is a list of sites to read on the best definitions and explanations we found on the internet today:

A basic explanation (2007): http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/hijacking 

Note the significance of both Residential & Business applications of Hijacks in general (Most Recent Definition): http://www.ehow.com/about_6465909_definition-computer-hijack.html

How do I distinguish between a Virus, a Worm, a Trojan, and a Hijack?

The answer is simple, if your antivirus or anti-malware won't fix the problem, please take your computer to a certified technician.  In almost all cases, it takes someone with some experience with each of these, usually a trained professional, to permanently remove them.  It is not impossible for an individual to remove any one of these on their own; if you embark on such a journey, know that it can be long, frustrating, and can sometimes take several tries before getting accurate results.  The most difficult of diagnosis is when your computer contains more than one type.  Depending on the behavior the computer is exhibiting, some serious damage can be done by simply allowing the behavior to continue or several failed attempts to remove any one of these.  Please be aware of this caution before attempting the removal of any Virus, Worm, Trojan, Hijack or other new malicious software.  Also be aware that often, the removal of Viruses, Trojans, Worms, Rootkits, Hijacks, and certain types of Malware can do permanent damage to a computer (software and/or malware-wise), before, during, and even after removal; many times computers need the operating system wiped and completely reloaded if this happens.

How do I know if my computer has a hijack?

There is no known software that can detect a COMPELTE view of a hijack (such as is the case with other types of Malware).  Usually a hijack is diagnosed by the behavioral patterns it exhibits. 

**Update 12/8/15:  Windows Defender (Microsoft Security Essentials) has the ability to pickup portions of some Hijacks and rootkits.  Please note that anti-viruses are only detecting a smaller piece of a larger problem.  Although many computers can fully recover from the removal of a rootkit, it can almost NEVER recover from the removal of a Hijack.

Can a Hijack be permanently removed?

There are many websites that can help you TEMPORARILY remove a hijack (refreshing/restoring a computer is one of those ways); however, less than 1% of all hijacks can be removed permanently.  The hijack eventually resurfaces and usually with a vengeance.  The caution behind removing a hijack temporarily is that with each restart and/or use it can seriously damage hardware.  For example, a hijack that is determined to make it appear that your computer is running at 100% can quickly burn out a hard drive, cause severe overheating issues (especially if thermal compound is low), and in severe cases cause a computer to crash from end to end.  It is important that a hijack be removed as soon as humanly possible from the date you think that you may have one. The only sure way to get rid of one is to run the computer through a deletion/wiping process that knocks out all data; commonly known as the Department of Defense Wipe (D.O.D WIPE).  Websites that promise they can detect and remove hijacks, or tell someone "how to" do it themselves, can cause more damage in the long run.  PLEASE BE CAREFUL!


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