Many people like the idea of having more than one antivirus product on their computer at the same time, but it’s actually a bad idea.
Antivirus programs search your system for
programs that are monitoring and sending information about your computer. And the other antivirus product will be doing just that. You end up with two (or more) antivirus products going to war, trying to disable and remove one another.
And when a virus is found, the multiple antivirus products may both detect it, but only one can remove it. This can lead to reports of viruses still being installed that are actually long gone.
Not to mention, because of the way they function, (scanning every file and process running on your computer and every connection to and from the internet) antivirus programs can slow your computer down. Running two or more of these programs which are battling with one another for control of your system will bring most computers to a standstill.
Thousands of new computer viruses and malware programs are created daily. Even with virus protection, one third of computers worldwide are infected with some form of malware. It’s a common problem and the majority of computers I work on have some form of virus, spyware, malware, or a combination of all 3 installed on them.
If you suspect your computer has a virus, but aren’t sure what to look for, here are a few common signs your PC or laptop may be infected.
• The computer is slow to start, or programs take a long time to load, or don’t load at all.
• Your home page has been changed and/or your web searches are being redirected to a strange site.
• The internet suddenly stops working on your computer, but other computers or devices like phones and tablets can connect without a problem.
• Pop up messages, especially a large number of pop ups, could indicate some type of infection.
• Warnings of virus infection from antivirus software you don’t remember installing. These fake antivirus programs ARE the virus. After running a scan, they prompt you to pay via credit card for the full program to remove the virus- which they infected you with in the first place. Even after paying to “register” the infection usually remains on your computer.
• Ransomware is a newer type of infection that locks down your computer, hides your files and demands payment to grant you access to them again. Older versions (FBI, Department of Justice) will pretend to be law enforcement who have locked your computer down due to illegal internet activity. Newer ransomware like Cryptolocker and CryptoWall are almost impossible to decrypt.
There are hundreds of other symptoms but these are some of the most common. If your computer exhibits these symptoms or just doesn’t seem to be running as well as it should, give me a call. I have over 15 years experience and deal with thousands of malware infections each year.
Have you backed up your data recently? Every day people and businesses lose huge amounts of
valuable data because they fail to run a backup of their files. World Backup Day is set aside
as a reminder to back up those important files.
If you have files that are important to you and can’t be easily replaced or recreated, you should have some sort of regularly scheduled backup. Hard drives can crash. Computers can be infected with malware and viruses. And your smartphone can be damaged, lost or stolen. Losing irreplaceable and valuable documents or photos with no way to recover them is a nightmare scenario.
No matter how new or secure your smartphone or computer is, it’s important to back up your
files, because even new hardware can fail. Some polls have shown that almost 40% of people
don’t have any type of backup at all, and another 15% only backup 1-2 times a year.
Malware and viruses infect roughly 1/3 of the world’s computers. There’s a whole class of viruses that will lock your files and hold them for ransom. In most cases, even paying the
ransom won’t get your files back. If you have a current backup, you can completely wipe your
computer’s hard drive to rid it of the virus and restore your files from your backup copy.
The hard drive on your computer can also fail or crash. In those cases you may be able to recover the files by sending them to a professional data recovery lab, but that type of service is expensive. Depending on the exact problem, the cost could be anywhere from $300- $2000 and you may not even get back 100% of the data.
Any natural disaster that strikes your home or business can damage or destroy your computer and with it, your files. Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes can eradicate your data permanently with no chance of recovery.
Computers can be stolen, whether they are laptops, desktops, or even servers. Your data may or may not be valuable depending on who the thief is. In many cases, they wipe the hard drives to conceal who the original owner is before they sell the computer, so even if you can recover the system, your files may be gone.
More than 3 million smartphones were stolen last year- that’s more than 100 smartphones stolen every minute, each day. Another 1.4 million phones are lost every year and never recovered. Smartphones are prime targets for thieves because even more so than computers, smartphones hold loads of personal information like banking and credit card info, photos, emails, and even your whereabouts thanks to GPS location. The thief may be after your
identity or financial information and not your documents or photos, but you’re going to lose them regardless of the motive. Phones are also small and easy to conceal in a pocket or handbag, and they have a high resale value. And the first thing they will do is wipe it clean of all traces of your files.
There are dozens of other things that can happen to your files. A regularly scheduled backup
gives you peace of mind in those situations. There are several methods you can use to backup your files.
If you’re backing up a computer and have a relatively small amount of data, you can use a USB flash drive. If you have larger amounts of data you probably want to use an external hard drive. External drives are portable so they can be thrown in a laptop bag or backpack. They also allow quick access to all your files at once. There are downsides to external drives though. The drives are affected by all the same things computers are- they can be lost, stolen, damaged by natural disasters, get infected by malware and viruses and they can have mechanical failures. If your data is very valuable you should use more than one external hard drive.
Cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive/Google Photos are popular for both smartphone and computer backups. They give you a small amount of space for free, and can be
accessed from anywhere on any device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, PC, MAC). The problem is, one glitch and your files are gone, because there’s only one copy of your files there. If you accidentally delete a file, that deletion gets synced up to the cloud and there’s no way to get it back.
If you have an iPhone, you can back it up right to your computer using iTunes. This is nice because you only get 5 GB of space in iCloud so all your files may not fit there. Your computer probably has a ton of free space, and an iTunes backup is a complete backup of all your photos, videos, music, documents, SMS messages, call logs, contacts and apps. If you ever lose your iPhone or upgrade, just plug the replacement into your computer, open iTunes and you can restore your entire configuration from your last backup.
A Cloud Backup Service is different because it offers the ability to keep multiple versions
of your files, so if Tuesday’s backup is corrupted or encrypted from a virus infection, or
deleted by mistake, you can get the files back from Monday’s backup. You do have to pay for a
backup service like that, but if the data is important or irreplaceable, it’s well worth the
cost. If you have a large number of files to back up, you’ll find cloud backups are slower than backing up to an external hard drive. And if you ever need to retrieve a large number of files it may take hours or even days to pull them down from the cloud.
A sound backup solution would combine all these methods.
The accepted rule for backup best practices is the three-two-one rule. It can be summarized as: if you’re backing something up, you should have:
At least three copies,
In two different formats,
with one of those copies off-site.
I have multiple external hard drives for my most important files, which happen to be photos. These are backed up daily. Everything is also backed up to the cloud via Google+ Photos and Amazon’s Prime storage service. I also burn Blu-Ray discs so I always have a “negative” that can’t be deleted, and store a copy of these with a relative. Both my smartphone and my wife’s smartphone are set to automatically backup to Google and Amazon whenever we have WiFi access.
Whatever method you choose, please be sure you backup your files. If you’re overwhelmed and you don’t know where to start, I’ll be happy to help you out.
Simply put, this type of virus is devastating. CryptoWall (and the rest of the CryptoLocker variants) will encrypt (lock) your files and demand a ransom to get the key.
Files affected are usually photos, documents, music, and movies.
So far, there’s no way to crack the encryption (unlock the files) without paying the ransom, and there’s no guarantee the hackers will give you the key even when you’ve paid. The ransom can be anywhere from $400-$600 and with every new variation it’s going up.
The best way to prevent infection is to have a current backup of your files. Once the virus is removed (or once you wipe and reload the computer), you can restore your files. Most antivirus programs can remove the virus, but that won’t help you get your files back.