Malware is an umbrella term for any malicious software, like viruses, that can damage or destroy your computer, files, or even networks. If your computer becomes infected, malware can access your personal information, financial data, and other sensitive information. In fact, it’s possible that anything you type in or enter while using your computer, might become fair game for malware. Hackers can also use malware to attack other connected networks, and they can try to buy cryptocurrency using your information. If your computer is infected, it’s important to know if you’ve been hacked and how to get rid of malware to save your computer’s functionality.
How to scan for malware
Some computers have built-in features that help you scan for malware. Check your computer’s security settings to see if there’s a way to detect threats. If that feature doesn’t appear in your settings, contact the manufacturer to determine if your computer can scan for malware and how to do it.
Suppose your computer doesn’t have a built-in feature that scans for malware. In that case, you can download a verified third-party virus scanner that can help you detect malware and other issues that might negatively impact your computer’s performance and functionality.
How to remove malware
If your computer has been hacked, it’s not the end of the world because there are several ways to get rid of malware. Some of these removal methods are built right into your computer’s system. Others may require you to use third-party cybersecurity software to eliminate the malware. There are also do-it-yourself methods, like deleting dangerous programs you may have downloaded and restoring your computer to a safe, malware-free state. One quick word of caution, though. Some of these procedures can be fairly involved, so try any of them at your own risk. If you don’t feel comfortable making the fixes we describe below, it’s always a good idea to hire a pro to do them for you.
Update your operating system and antivirus software
It is vital to keep your computer’s operating system updated. Manufacturers routinely update your computer’s software to help protect it from advanced threats. By keeping your operating system software up to date, it is better able to detect and remove newly created malware. If you use a third-party security program, keep that software updated too. After updating your software, run a manual scan on your computer to look for and remove any malware you find. Once you download new programs and apps from the web, the updated security program will warn you against downloading something that might potentially harm to your computer system.
Search the error message
Some malware is complex and may require multiple steps to remove. Once you discover a malware infection, you can try to find out more details about the threat. There might be a detailed error message along with a numerical code. Search that message and code online for specific instructions on removing the malware.
Restore your computer’s system to a backed-up storage file
You may have picked up a malware infection by downloading a program or application from an unknown online source. If you’re someone who backs up your computer regularly, you’re in great shape. You can restore your computer’s system to a previous date before you downloaded the malicious program. Restoring your computer to its pre-malware state is helpful if you can’t figure out what’s causing the infection on your computer. But it’s important to remember that you should connect to the backup system or device only when you need back up or restore files. Keeping your computer constantly connected may allow the malware to infect your backup too.
Factory reset your computer
If you’ve exhausted the options above, there’s still a way to get rid of malware on your computer. First, back up your files and photos. Then, uninstall and delete any unnecessary apps and files on your computer. If the malware is still present, you can perform a “factory reset” to remove it. You can then retrieve and reinstall the backup files once you complete the factory reset. Doing this may mean you have to find and install the operating system from the software manufacturer. If you choose this option, it’s best to download the software from a different computer and not the one with the malware infection. Even though this step sounds extreme, it should remove the malware and restore your data. As we mentioned earlier, if you’re uncomfortable trying any of these methods yourself, don’t risk damaging your system. Find a professional computer expert to help you out.
Other ways to protect your computer
Using built-in scanners, third-party cybersecurity systems, restoring to a past date, or factory resetting your computer are all ways to get rid of malware. It’s also vital to keep your computer’s operating system and antivirus programs updated. Above all, use caution when downloading apps from online sources to lower your risk of downloading any malware in the future. Explore the Quantum Fiber blog to find more tips on cybersecurity, like how to protect yourself against spear phishing and other virtual scams.