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Malicious software - what is it?

By amancuso

Strange malware infection

Our on-site computer Geeks come across all sorts of problems and issues but seldomly find something new and interesting.  However, a client on the Sunshine Coast had a very interesting problem. She found that her system at home had been compromised and that she was unable to surf her trusted bank websites without Google Chrome or Internet Explorer complaining that there might be a security compromise. After going round in circles with Telstra and her banks she decided to call in her local BuzzAGeek technician.

When one of our technicians investigated he found that a malicious piece of software, i.e. Malware, had compromised her router and adjusted the settings to redirect internet requests to go through a 3rd party server. This 3rd party server was then spying on everything that this client was requesting through her web browser. Not only was her desktop affected, but her mobiles phones and smart home appliances (TV).

The Malware software adjusted the DNS server (Domain Name Resolution) settings without the owners knowledge. How it works is that a DNS server simply takes a web alias, i.e. www.buzzageek.com.au and converts it into a network address called an IP address. The DNS server then returns a false IP addresse for aliases it was being asked to resolve. The Malware software compromised her system because her router still had the default password, which the Malware software guessed correctly, and then adjusted the settings, and the client was totally unaware that it had happened.

Malware 1fefge

So what is Malware?

Malware, short for malicious software, is software used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. Malware includes computer viruses, trojans, root-kits, key-loggers, spyware, and adware. Malware can also manifest itself as rogue security software. Malware is generally not designed to destroy personal data but more likely to spy on your internet usage and activities or force you to pay for something you don't need.

How do I get it?

Malware can easily be obtained by downloading or installing software from non-trusted sources. Such sources include bogus emails sent directly to you that contain executable programs, for example, "the ATO has a refund for you" etc. These emails entice you to click and explore the attachment and then you can get infected if you do not have a strong and up-to-date anti-virus/anti-malware security system.

How can I avoid it?

There are many programs out there to safeguard your computer. Some are free (with manual scanning) but commercial software takes care of your internet security automatically. Anti-malware programs provide real time protection of all incoming internet information and programs that get loaded. Anti-malware software scans the system configuration (registry), the operating files, and installed programs. Once a malware signature is detected the anti-malware software will alert and in some cases automatically remove the infection.

A good example of anti-virus/anti-malware is a product by Microsoft called "Microsoft Security Essentials". It's freely available and never expires.

Computerstatusprotected Web

For further reading please head over to Wikipedia's Malware article .

If you feel that your network, desktop or laptop may have been comprised then feel free to give us a ring and have one of our expert computer technicians help clean up your system and remove any viruses or malware infections.

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