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Malware is becoming more and more of a problem these days as we shift more of our lives online, so knowing how to get rid of malware and how to avoid it in the first place will stand you in good stead for the future and help you to enjoy more of your online experience.

What Exactly Is Malware?

Malware is an abbreviated term for “malicious software”, and refers to a wide variety of “virtual nasties”, as I like to call them. These nasties can be sometimes be difficult to get rid of and include things like:

Worms – these “burrow” into a system and cause damage often via email, and use your email contacts or address book to continue the process.

Trojans – harmful or annoying software that comes in by the back door, often disguised as a normal file.

Spyware – often comprising keyloggers and screen capture systems, designed to track your online movements and extort personal details, like bank account numbers, social security numbers etc. for the purpose of online fraud.

Adware – a normally harmless but annoying piece of code or software that monitors your online movements and presents advertisements linked to your browsing habits, generating revenue for the creator of the code. They are often linked with illegal or illicit sites such as pornography or hacking.

The damage these parasites cause can range from slight slow downs in your computer’s performance, or annoying pop-ups, all the way to harvesting your personal details and information and even the irreparable damage to files your operating system as a whole.

How Do I Get Rid Of Malware?

Now that we’ve established what it actually is, we can get on to the task of how to get rid of malware.

Get An Anti-Spyware Software

While many people may have an anti-virus software, these days it is always good practice to have an anti-spyware application too, as this will create a double barrier of protection and take care of all the latest malware and virus definitions. If you don’t have an anti-spyware software yet, you can find some recommendations and get a free scan at my website, at the bottom of this article.

Switch Off Your Internet Connection and Run A Scan Immediately

Run your anti-virus and anti-spyware scanning software immediately if you suspect you may be infected. Running both softwares will stop malware “falling through the net”. Switching off your internet connection will avoid any slow down and prevent any new attacks to your computer, as well as stopping the malware that may be on your machine from communicating or spreading itself to other computers.

Once Detected, Zap It!

Once your software has detected the rogue in question, follow the instructions on how to get rid of the malware. Simply deleting it may not work – if it’s a program file it will need to be uninstalled through the Add/Remove Programs utility in your Windows Control Panel. If the parasite has made changes to your registry, you may need to use a registry cleaner to help restore things back to normal, and get rid of the malware completely.

How Do I Avoid Malware In The Future?

Here are some good practice tips to help you avoid getting malware in the future.

Always Use A Firewall

The firewall helps to prevent attacks against your computer without you knowing. Making use of a firewall is essential when going online today. In fact if you’re not using one right now, make that your first priority. Windows computers all come with a default firewall which is pretty good, so get that set up immediately if you haven’t already done so. Most anti-virus software and anti-spyware softwares come with some pretty beefed-up firewalls these days so there’s no reason to be without one.

Use Anti-virus Scanners To Check All Downloads and Emails

All downloads and emails should be run through your anti-virus software before being placed on your computer system, even if they’re from a trusted friend. This will eliminate many possible problems.

If you’re running on Windows, and downloading executable files, .exe files, (such as programs or software) you should often get a dialog box telling you whether the site you’re downloading from is authenticated by Microsoft. While this is not 100% effective as not all legitimate sites have been through the authentication process, it can help you think twice if you have any doubts.

Be Careful What Sites You Visit

Particular care should be taken on Torrent and Peer-2-Peer file sharing networks as these have become a haven for hackers to spread their plagues via seemingly harmless Trojans.

This goes without saying really, but please avoid illegal or immoral websites as these are where the most dangerous and lethal virus and malware attacks occur. However, it is always good practice to follow the above tips and make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware systems are up-to-date, just in case you get redirected to any of those questionable sites…yes, this does happen.