How Did My Computer Get Infected?

October 19, 2015

Sometimes you click on something and you immediately know that you just infected your computer. But most of the time when a computer is infected, it’s not obvious how it happened.¬†Everybody would like to know how their computer got infected, but nobody wants to pay extra to find out. The fact is, most of the time, there is no way to tell exactly how your computer got infected.

But we can tell you, in general terms, how your computer most likely was infected. These days most infections come through websites. How you got to that infected website varies. You could have click on an online ad. A spam email may have had a link in it that you click on that took you to the infected website. Or some other website may have had a link on it that took you to that bad website. However, you got connected with that website, that’s where the infection came from.

The second most common way a computer gets infected is through email attachments. Don’t open those attachments unless you are absolutely sure it’s safe.

The types of infections we see have changed over the years. In the early years, the most common type of infections were viruses whose sole purpose was to try and destroy your computer. These were created by malicious people who had way too much time on their hands.

We don’t see viruses much anymore. These days, it’s all about money. We mostly see Adware, Fakeware, and Ransomware. These names are a play on the word software.

Adware’s purpose is to show you advertisements. It’s a program that runs on your computer or adds itself to your web browser and shows ads. Pretty straightforward.

Fakeware are programs that pretend to be real and useful software so they can persuade you to purchase it. The most common type of Fakeware are programs that pretend to be security software or tune-up software. The fake security software tells you your computer is infected and if you purchase their (fake)  product they will clean off all of the (fake) infections it says you have. Fake tune-up software tells you about all of these problems your computer has that are slowing it down and causing errors. If you just purchase their (fake) program they will clean up your computer and make it run faster. Yeah right.

RansomWare is the worst. Once on your system, you won’t know it’s there. Quietly in the background, it encrypts all of your files (documents, pictures, music, videos, etc.). Then, when it’s done, it holds those files for ransom. If you don’t pay the ransom, you don’t get your files back unless you restore them from backup.

The moral of the story is to make sure you do the following:

  1. Have good security software. Keep it up to date and don’t let it expire.
  2. Have a good backup that supports previous versions (Carbonite).
  3. Be careful what you click on.

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