You may probably be aware of cyberattacks and breaches transpiring all around the world. In fact, chances are that you may have also been a victim of an attack, whether you are aware of it or not.
Regardless, cyber breaches are usually executed through the use of Malicious Software, aka malware. Phishing, ransomware, viruses…do these ring any bells? Yes, all such threats come under the big bad umbrella of malware attacks.
The different types of malware, signs of malware, preventive tips and how to remove malware, are some of the many areas that we will be covering in this epic guide. So, here it goes:
Table of Contents
Recent Malware Attacks
According to a recent report by G Data Software, Malware Trends 2017, a new malware emerges in every 4.2 seconds. Surprisingly, the figure represents the statistics of only the 1st quarter of 2017, and it is expected to increase.
With malware popping up at such an alarming rate, it is not unusual for us to not hear about a new malware attack transpiring somewhere in the world. However, the growing number of attacks isn’t the only thing we should be worried about. In fact, the most troubling aspect is the sophistication of the attack.
In 2017, researchers at a security firm, Morphisec, came across a potentially dangerous malware that could infect a device easily by circumventing the anti-virus. While discussing the attack on the official blog, Michael Gorelik, Morphisec’s VP of Research and Development, said that such attacks “pose a severe risk to enterprises.”
Unfortunately, enterprises aren’t the only targets of a malware. In fact, malware attacks are carried out indiscriminately, i.e. on any and every system or infrastructure that can be infiltrated to gain either valuable data or a ransom. One such attack, the WannaCry ransomware attack, hit the world on May 2017, infecting hundreds of thousands of systems in almost 150 countries. The attack was not limited to huge corporates and also ended up affecting many healthcare centers such as the NHS centers in the UK.
Just a month after Wannacry, another ransomware named Petya or notPetya attacked and infected multiple networks in many countries like the US (Merck Pharmaceutical Company), Denmark (Maersk Shipping Company) and Ukraine (multiple utility companies including power companies, airports, public transit, and the central bank). This ransomware was more destructive than WannaCry in many ways.
Ransomware is one of the many type of malware attacks that are carried out by cyber criminals or opportunist hackers. Every malware is built for different purposes or targets.[Back to Top]
Common Types of Malware
To learn how to remove a malware, you first have to understand how it works. So, let’s take a look at the most popular malware that are commonly used for hacking, data theft, or any other cyberattack.
- Trojan: Considered as one of the most dangerous types of malware, it has the ability to mimic a genuine program or application that runs in the background without any hindrance. Since it is spread and installed with a malicious intent, it can infect the system, create vulnerabilities in the software, delete files, and cause much more damage than you could possibly afford.
- Spyware: As the name suggests, it is used for secretly spying on your activities on the internet. Unlike Trojans, spywares don’t infect systems or delete files. These tools just sit back and relay all your online activities to a host system (spy). As a result, you may end up unintentionally sharing your credit card information, personal data or any other sensitive information with someone.
- Adware: Unlike other malware, Adware is not malicious in nature and only serves adverts on the infected systems. However, due to the huge volume of adverts resulting from an adware, the infected system is likely to experience a significant decline in performance.
- Worm: It is a type of virus that has the ability to self-replicated and then spread its clones to other systems on a network. In short, it prospers with duplication.
- Rootkit: A dangerous malware, Rootkits are remotely operated malicious tools that can easily infiltrate a system by circumventing security programs. It can be used to take control of your system remotely and access information or even change system configurations.
- Ransomware: It is yet another dangerous malware that acts like a Worm to spread on a network, infecting systems and locking down important files or data in exchange for a ransom. You can only access your data once you pay the desired ransom amount.
Important Signs of Malware
Detecting a malware can be quite difficult since some malware can bypass security programs. However, there are some common symptoms exhibited somewhat similarly in almost all malware infections. If you detect any of the following symptoms in your system or device, know that you system is infected by malware:
- Slow Performance: The first thing you may notice in a malware infected device is slower performance. After all, different malware behave differently. Some malware eat up your RAM memory while others consume space on your hard drive.
- Browser Redirect: Since some malware hijacks your browse navigation, you may see continuous redirects while browsing. The malware may send you to fraudulent or adverts-filled links due to redirection.
- Continuous Crashes: If your system is infected with a highly infectious virus, you may experience frequent system crashes.
- Annoying Popups: You may experience inappropriate adverts popping up on your screen, even when the browser is closed.
- Ransom Popup: If your important files are locked and show a warning screen asking for a ransom to be paid, you are a victim of ransomware attack.
How to Prevent a Malware Attack
As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Before we move to the malware removal process for different devices and operating systems, let’s see some preventive measures first:
- Use Firewall: Always keep your Firewall on so that you can limit or restrict any uninitiated remote access or traffic.
- Update Software: Malware are usually aimed at systems that have software vulnerabilities. Therefore, regular security updates is the only way to patch those security holes.
- Take Backups: If you don’t want a malware attack to affect your business operations or your personal online activities, always take regular backups of your important data.
- Use Anti-Malware/Anti-Virus: Security programs like anti-malware are built exclusively to fight off virus or malware attacks. So, install an anti-malware tool and always keep its security database updated.
- Practice Internet Safety: Many experts have published internet safety measures for users to follow. Understand those measures and practice online safety tips to avoid a malware disaster.
How to Remove Malware from Operating Systems
More often than not, operating systems are infected with malware because of a security vulnerability. Once the OS is infected, it affects all the system operations such as performance, behavior, etc. The malware removal process may vary in different operating systems.
How to Remove Malware from Windows 7
Are you wondering, “How do I remove a virus from my computer running Windows 7? Follow the steps mentioned below:
Step 1: Unplug Network Cable
Your computer is continuously affected by a malware as long as it is connected to a network. Therefore, to remove the malware, you first have to disconnect your network connection.
You can disconnect the physical cable by unplugging it from the system. However, to remove a wireless connection, you need to go through the following steps on Windows 7.
- Go to Start, then Control Panel > Network and Internet and then Network and Sharing Center
- Next, go to the Change adapter settings which you can find on the left-side panel
- You will now see a new window, showing you different network connections. Disable the Wireless Network Connection by right-clicking it
Step 2: Turn off System Restore
In the next step, you need to disable the System Restore before proceeding with the malware removal process. To disable it, here’s what you need to do:
- First of all, go to Start > Control Panel and then System and Security
- Now go to System Protection from the new window
- Check under Protection Settings and look for devices that have Protection activated or turned on. Click Configure
- Under the Restore Settings on the selected device, click Turn Off System Restore
- Click OK and confirm Yes to the new settings
Step 3: Run Security Tools
Now comes the scanning part. Make sure that you have downloaded an anti-malware and anti-virus tool to scan and remove the malware from your system.
However, before you run the anti-malware, reboot your system and start it in Safe Mode. Here are the steps to restart your PC in Safe Mode:
- Restart your PC and repeatedly hit F8. You will shortly see Advanced Boot Options
- In the boot option, click Safe Mode and hit Enter
Once you are in, it is now time to install the anti-malware. After the installation is completed, perform a complete system scan to detect potential malware in your system and delete them.
Once you are done with the malware scan, it is time to install the anti-virus tool. Unlike malware installation, you need to restart your PC in normal mode to install the anti-virus. After the installation, you have to again restart and use the PC in Safe Mode for anti-virus scan.
Step 5: Turn on System Restore
Now, it is time to enable the System Restore settings again, and for that you have to follow the exact same steps you took in Step 2 when disabling the setting.
However, when you are in the Restore Settings in the System Protection windows, click Restore system settings and previous versions of files.
Step 6: Plug Network Cable
Re-plug the physical network cable to connect your computer with the network. However, if you are using a Wireless connection and you disabled it in Step 1, simply Turn On the settings again.
Go to the Change Adapter Settings, and Connect the network by right-clicking the Wireless Network Connection option
Step 7: Turn On Automatic Updates
It is a fact that malware usually target security vulnerabilities to infect a system. Therefore, if you patch those vulnerabilities, you close their way in. For this reason, it is imperative to keep the system up to date with latest security updates.
You can set Windows 7 automatic updates with the following steps:
- Go to Windows Update which you can find by going to Start > Control Panel and System and Security
- Click Change Settings from the left-side panel. Once you click it, a Choose how Windows can install updates screen will open
- Click Install Updates Automatically. You can also set the schedule you want your system to start the update
- Click OK
How to Remove Malware from Windows 8
Removing malware from Windows 8 is really easy, because the steps are somewhat similar to those taken for Windows 7.
Step 1: Disconnect Network
Make sure that your computer isn’t connected to the internet or the local network. Unplug it, until you remove the malware from your Windows 8.
To disconnect a Wireless connection, go through the following steps.
- Click the Windows icon on the left-side of the Task Bar. Or, you can simply press the Windows key on your keyboard to access the start menu
- Now type, Wireless
- You will see Turn wireless communication on or off on the start menu search result
- Toggle off the Wi-Fi
Step 2: Deactivate System Restore
- Start by Pressing the Windows key + “X” on your keyboard. A mini screen will pop up on the extreme left of the screen. Click System
- A new window will open from where you can click System protection
- In the new window, check under the Protection settings and choose the drive that has Protection On
- Turn Off System Protection under the Restore settings
- Click OK, followed by Yes and then click OK again
Step 3: Install Security Tools and Scan
To install the anti-malware tool on your system, you need to restart it and open it in Safe Mode.
- Press the Windows key on your Keyboard along with L
- Now select the Power button and click Restart while holding the shift key
- You will see a blue screen with the title “Choose an Option”, select Troubleshoot
- Click Advanced Options and then click Startup settings
- Now restart again, and when it is done, press F4 you will be able to use the Safe Mode
Now, install the anti-malware to find and delete infected files.
To install and use the anti-virus tool, you need to restart the system again in Normal mode. However, to scan the system using the anti-virus, you need to restart it in Safe mode.
Step 5: Turn on System Restore
Once you are done with the installation of the security tools and have completed the system scan, toggle on the System Restore. To do that follow the same steps as in Step 2. However, when you are in the Restore Settings option, click Restore system settings and previous versions of files. Once done, Press OK.
Step 6: Plug Network Cable
To reconnect the Wireless network connection that you toggled off, perform the same procedure discussed in the first step.
- Windows Key > type and search “Wireless”
- Choose “Turn wireless communication on or off” from the search
- Toggle On Wi-Fi
Step 7: Turn On Automatic Updates
Once your system is cleaned from any malware, turn on the Automatic update to install occasional security patches.
- Click Windows icon and type to search Settings
- Click Change PC Settings and choose Update and Recovery
- Select Choose how updates get installed
- Click Install updates automatically
- Click OK
How to Remove Malware from Windows 10
If you notice any suspicious activity or experience slow performance, know that there is a malware in your system.
Step 1: Delete Malware from the System
Start with identifying any suspicious programs in your system and uninstalling them
- Press the Windows Key. Type and search “Control Panel”
- In the Control Panel window, select Uninstall a Program under the Programs heading
- Upon clicking Uninstall a Program, a Program and Feature screen will open listing all the installed applications.
- Scan through the list and right-click any program that looks suspicious and click Uninstall
(Optional) Step 2: Use Anti-Adware
If your system is plagued with continuous and inappropriate popups, your system may be infected with an adware. To clean the adware from the system, you need to install an anti-adware.
Install the tool and scan the system to find and quarantine or delete any adware.
Step 3: Use Anti-Malware
Often anti-malware comes with anti-adware. It makes it easier for you to install a single tool and scan the system against both the malware and adware.
Perform a complete system scan so that you leave no space for any malware to continue the infection.
Step 6: Change Browser Settings to Default
If the popups continue to infect your browser, reset the browser to default.
Resetting Google Chrome
- Open the Chrome browser
- Open the menu by clicking the three horizontal dots on the right side
- Click Settings
- Scroll down on the new window to search and click Show Advanced Settings
- Scroll down again to search and select Restore Settings
- A message will popup confirming the reset. Select Reset to continue
Resetting Mozilla Firefox
- Click the three horizontal lines on the right side of the window to access the Firefox menu
- Click the “?” to open the Help menu
- Now select Troubleshooting Information
- Click the Refresh Firefox
- A popup will open to confirm the reset. Click Refresh Firefox
Resetting Internet Explorer
- Click the gear icon and select Internet Options
- Click the Advanced tab
- Select Reset
- Click Reset again on the popup to continue
How to Remove Malware from Mac
Mac users assume that their OS is safe from malware. Although it may be true that malware or viruses attacks are rare on Mac, but they do happen. If you know the application that is infecting your system, here’s how to remove it.
- Go the Go menu on your Mac navigation and then click Utilities
- Search for and double-click the Activity Monitor
- In the Activity Monitor screen, look for the suspicious app that is infecting your system
- Select the desired app and click Quit Process
- Select Force Quit
- Go back to the Go menu again and click Applications
- On the next screen, search for the suspicious entry and click Move to Trash
- Open up the Apple menu and click System Preferences
- Select the desired Account and then select Login Items
- Select the malicious application and click the subtract icon (–)
How to Remove Malware from Devices
Smartphones and tabs are also amongst those devices that are targeted for malware attacks. The attacks are carried out for either data theft or any other privacy or security breach. Here’s how you can get rid your device from malware:
How to Remove Malware from iPhone/iPad
Start with updating the device’s iOS first to render the malware paralyze.
- Open the device’s Settings menu
- Tap the General option
- Tap Software Update
If you are aware of the infected application, you can simply delete it. However, if you are not sure which application is causing the disturbance, then the best way to remove the malware is by factory reset.
- Turn on your Mac and open iTunes
- Connect your iPhone or iPad
- Select the device from iTunes
- Click the Restore iPhone/iPad from the Summary tab
- Click again if the application asks for confirmation
- It will take a few minutes to reset your device
How to Remove Malware from Android Phones
An Android malware can listen to your private conversations, expose personal data to hackers, and do much more damage than you realize. Here’s how to get rid of malware on Android:
- Go to the Settings of your Android device
- Look for Apps and click it to open
- Go to the Downloaded tab and you will see all the lists of apps you have in your Android
- Tap the app you want to delete
- First Clear Cache
- Click Clear data
- Finally, click Uninstall
If you are not sure of the app causing havoc on your Android, you may try scanning the device against an anti-malware tool.[Back to Top]
How to Remove Malware from Browsers
Your browsers are also not safe from malware attacks. In fact, browser hijacking is amongst the attacks that are highly common.
How to Remove Malware from Chrome
- You may install and run an anti-adware tool to detect and delete adware on your Google Chrome browser
- If you are not sure if it is an adware or any other malware, then install an anti-malware application for scanning the system
You may also reset your Chrome’s setting if the above mentioned methods fail to show any good results.
- Open up Google Chrome
- Go to the Settings by clicking the 3 dots at the top right corner
- Now, click Show Advanced Settings
- Click Reset Settings
How to Remove Malware from Mozilla Firefox
First of all, try scanning the system against an anti-virus or malware tool for any malicious application. However, if the method fails to show any improvement, then try resetting the Firefox browser.
- Go to the Menu option of Firefox by clicking the 3 horizontal lines at the top right corner
- Click the (?) link
- Select the Troubleshooting Information
- Click Refresh Firefox
- Click it again if the option pops up in a dialogue box
How to Remove Malware from Safari
If your Safari browser is infected with an adware or malware, you may start with deleting any suspicious extension.
- Go to the Safari Menu
- Select Preferences
- Choose the Extensions tab
- See if you have any unfamiliar extension in the list. If you find any, simply uninstall it
If the problem persists, try restoring the settings to default.
- Go to the Safari Menu again
- Select Reset Safari
- A dialogue box will open containing different check lists
- Check all the boxes and click Reset
To make sure that you leave no stone unturned, install an anti-malware tool and scan the system for malware.
Frequent Asked Questions
What Is Malware And What Does It Do?
Malicious Software, aka Malware, is built to harm users in a plethora of ways. Every malware that is created by hackers, cyber criminals or secretive agencies alike serves a different purpose. Some malware are built to steal the online identity of the victim. With the stolen identity, the hacker can steal personal data, credit card number or even money, blackmail the victim, etc. There are also some malware that can be used to obtain ransoms, while others can damage an entire IT infrastructure of a company.
What Is the Difference between Malware and Virus?
Malware is the umbrella term for all kinds of malicious software, tools, codes or scripts. Therefore, a virus is one of the many types of malware such as worms, spyware, etc. Every malware is built to serve a specific purpose. Since a virus has the ability to replicate itself, hackers build viruses so that they can infect many systems with a single tool.
How Do I Know If My Computer Has a Virus?
Whether your computer is infected with a virus or any other malware, you may experience the following signs:
- An abrupt decline in the performance of your computer.
- Applications or software don’t run even when you try to open them.
- Your important files are automatically encrypted and ask a ransom to decrypt.
Your internet browser is bombarded with ad pop ups.