By John Carter

Hi Net Neighbors! Welcome to another Tech Tuesday, where we do deep dives into the technology issues plaguing you. Today we are going to look at something many of you probably live in fear of, Viruses and Malware. Depending on who you are talking to, they have the potential to ruin your life and steal your cat. Now they aren’t out to do the latter and the former…well that is less about your life and more about knowing information about you allows the ‘bad guys’ more access to the world.

What is a Virus?

Okay, now hold onto your hats because I am about to blow your mind. A Virus is a form of Malware. Boom! More specifically, a Virus is a computer program designed to spread from program to program in your computer. Once it has infected a host machine, the Virus will then seek ways of jumping to other systems to infect them as well. Viruses are made by people with varying goals in mind. Some do it for benign reasons such as creating tools to break into computers to better figure out ways to protect those same computers. Others use Viruses as a way of making a political statement, such as programming a computer so that, every time you press CTRL and ALT at the same time a screen opens and types whatever statement they had in mind.

Those are good to somewhat annoying actors on the stage though. What about the really bad guys? Well Viruses made by these people are out to steal information or deny you access to services until an amount of money is paid.

Then what is Malware?

Malware, or malicious software, is a catch all term for all sorts of nasty computer bugs. Bugs such as Trojan Horses, Ransomware, Adware, Keyloggers, Browser Hijackers, and yes, Viruses. We’ll go through all these but know that they all are problematic and can really be a pain to remove. They are usually created to cause pain in others and extract information and funds from people/institutions.

Trojan Horses

Like the historical horse from which they draw their name, Trojan Horses, aka Trojans, are Malware designed to appear legitimate. They use this seemingly legitimate face to convince you to interact with it and when you do the real Malware hidden inside is free to attack. Some common places for Trojans to pop up are pictures people send you. While the image appears normal, inside Malware may be lurking. It is because of this that many email services include a scanner to check incoming mail for these sorts of attacks.


This kind of Malware either locks you out of your computer or threatens to distribute the contents of your computer. Either way, the chief goal of Ransomware is for you to pay the bad guys. They block access to your files by encoding them with a key that only they have. So long as you are not given the key there is no real way of accessing your information. Trojans are a common vector for getting Ransomware onto your computer


This might be the one you are most familiar with because of how it presents, pop-ups. Adware is designed to create windows filled with ads for you to click on. The most important thing to remember when it comes to Adware is to not click on any of the buttons. For one, you cannot be sure you are going to legitimate sites through these links. Also, you cannot be sure the button isn’t a trigger to release a far more dangerous Malware into your system.


Again, usually, hidden within Trojans, Keyloggers are pieces of Malware designed to make a record of every key you press on your keyboard. The purpose of this is to capture important information such as usernames, passwords, and bank account numbers and then transmit that information to the one behind the Malware. Once they have this information it is much easier to break into your accounts.

Browser Hijackers

These are very sophisticated pieces of Malware designed to take over some, if not all, the functions of your browser. Common features are a changing of your browser’s search engine to a bad actor’s site. These sites are either Malware-laden traps, filled with ads designed to take you to worse sites, or both. Browser Hijackers can be some of the hardest Malware to remove though some aspects of them, such as changing default search engines and browsers, requires user permission making them less powerful on Windows 10 machines.

Okay, I’m scared now. How do I protect myself?

Well the good news is that is fairly easy to protect yourself against the kinds of threats. If you have Windows 10 then your computer comes with Windows Security which is more than up to the task of keeping your computer free of viruses. Just make sure to run regular updates and occasionally pop into the Windows Security, accessible through the Update and Security area of the Settings app.  

Malware, on the other hand, will probably require a bit more power than a simple virus scanner has at its disposal. To combat them you are going to want to download an anti-Malware program. As of 2020 one the most respected anti-Malware programs is Malwarebytes which you can download for free from It will give you a free 14-day trial of their Premium services but you can use the basic package with no problem.

Now what?

Between your free anti-virus and your free anti-Malware, you can use the internet in relative safety. This does not mean there are no threats out there, that’s not how life works. But for the most part you are safe, just like in life. Just remember a few things: don’t download from sites not familiar to you, if a friend sends a picture from the wrong email address don’t open it, run your anti-virus and anti-Malware at least once a month depending on your usage.

Next time we are going to talk about Texting and how it compares to Email and how to get the most out of both.

Until then, have fun, find adventure, and stay safe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>