Malicious Software often known collectively as "Malware" comprises a variety of unwanted files or programs that can be placed upon your computer by third parties without your knowledge. They are often installed whilst piggybacking a download or on a legitimate web site that has been infiltrated without the web site owner knowing about it. The most common forms are viruses, worms, trojans, spyware and rootkits. As the name suggests, the result of a malicious software application being installed on your computer can vary from a mere annoyance to destructive and/or a potential breach of privacy. Malware can be responsible for one or more of the following:
- Corrupt or changed important operating system and program files.
- Theft of financial details (e.g. on-line banking).
- Display illicit, fake, pornographic or offensive "pop-up" pages or adverts.
- Try to elicit payment from you to repair your computer.
- Slow down your computer or cause it to periodically crash for no obvious reason.
- Alter an Internet browser (e.g. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox) to behave erratically.
- Prevent you from using your computer in a normal manner.
Malware is extremely common and new or updated versions appear frequently and consequently it is very easy to become infected. It can also be very deceptive and - what appears to be a perfectly innocent (and often useful) application - can be loaded with malware waiting to corrupt your system. Internet toolbars piggybacking with legitimate updates are often the start in a chain of malware which can disrupt your computer. The malware may not even be malicious, just badly written so its presence upsets the normal smooth running of your machine. Often one piece of malware will invite other malware to propagate on your machine so you may end up with several different types of malware on your machine at the same time. The longer you leave your machine running with malware on it, the more infections your machine is likely to automatically download, so what might initially be an irritant may change to become a nightmare.
Other causes of infection are via e-mail messages (with attachments) or a USB stick drive. Unfortunately, even an e-mail from a friend or family can contain malware. This is often the case when the sender of the e-mail is unaware his/her computer is infected. A more recent form is when an internet site has been hijacked by the virus and when your browser loads the page, a "Virus Found" message is displayed. If you click on any part of the message or even the web page itself you may unwittingly be giving your firewall and antivirus program permission to "allow" and trigger the program to download the malware onto your machine. Worse still, there are some malwares that load automatically without your intervention.
Web sites, IM (instant messaging) clients (e.g. Microsoft Live Messenger, ICQ etc.), P2P (peer to peer) clients (e.g. Limewire, µTorrent etc.) are also potential sources of infection. Regrettably, malware programmers often target the younger or less experienced users with an offer of a free download (e.g. animated "smilies" or cursors) that install unwanted malware in the background to track web usage, steal confidential information and/or display unwanted adverts.
Some malware may have dangerous types of files which allow people to enter your machine without you knowing it or upload keystrokes or passwords that you have entered or stored. Dependent on what we find, we may advise you changing your passwords to your router and to various institutions and your e-mail.
Becoming more and more common is the trickster or fraudster who contacts you by phone or message. If you suspect that you have been tricked into allowing someone onto your computer when they have purported to have been from an organisation such as Microsoft or your Internet provider you should turn off your computer and call us immediately. You can find out more on our Tricksters, Fraudsters & Scams page.
What Can We Do?
In most situations, our method of using an extensive range of anti-malware software to thoroughly inspect your computer, identify and attempt to remove threats is normally successful combined with tools to repair corrupted software where possible. As malware is constantly evolving and new versions are appearing daily, nobody can guarantee to remove all malware from your computer, sometimes a computer is left with damaged or corrupt files which may or may not be able to be repaired in which case a complete wipe and reinstall would be required (see below).
In some cases the malware running your computer may permanently damage the operating system (e.g. Microsoft Windows) and we may need to completely wipe your hard disk and re-install from scratch. If this is the case, we can help you back-up your data then restore your computer to factory settings. If this is the case, we will ask for the operating system CD/DVD which was supplied with your computer when you purchased it and any other software that you want on your computer.
Well used to dealing with PC & Laptop repairs in Plymstock and the surrounding Plymouth and South Hams Area, Phil Guy Computer & Repairs have an in depth knowledge of dealing with such problems. We use our long experience to ensure that re-infection is less likely and install (and demonstrate) free anti-virus and malware clients to help protect your computer in the future together with advice on how best to avoid re-infection.
Please note that under no circumstances will Phil Guy Computer & Repairs be liable for data loss when we perform equipment maintenance. We strongly recommend that you back up your data on a separate medium ( for example by DVD, external hard-drive, USB stick or on-line) on a regular basis. All business is subject to our Terms and Conditions of Business, a printable version of which is available here.
The prices quoted on the charges page for this service are a guide only as the amount of work to repair your machine can vary immensely however, most clients are very relieved to have their computer restored often working better than it has for a long time.