Viruses and other forms of malware used to simply destroy your data. Today’s viruses and malware are less destructive and far more sophisticated as the goal is now data and personal identity theft. Viruses have become so sophisticated that they can sometimes go completely unnoticed and can even disable your antivirus program while making it look as though the antivirus is still running and protecting your system when it's not. They can lock your computer and display a page with an email address or phone number that promises if you call or email them and pay a fee, your data will be unlocked. Never ever contact these people. They will take your money and your data will remain locked and inaccessible. People used to think that you could only get a virus by visiting disreputable websites like pornography sites, through email attachments or pirated programs. This is no longer the case. Your computer can be infected by simply visiting any website that has advertising, which the vast majority of websites have. You don't have to click on or install anything. Simply visiting the site and having an ad load that contains a virus is all it takes. Viruses can even be embedded in simple Word or PDF files. Now more than ever, a good antivirus and adblockers are absolutely required to keep you as safe as possible from getting a virus.
Often a virus will give you no sign that it is there. It hides itself and quietly logs all of your key strokes and keeps track of the sites you've visited and periodically sends this data to a person who will try to use it to steal your identity, get into your social media accounts or even your bank account. Once you have a virus it also opens a backdoor for other viruses who look for infected systems and use the backdoor to infect your system with another virus and another and another until your system is loaded with virus. Eventually you might start seeing odd popups that give you false information. You may find your home page on your browser has been changed to a new one and nothing you do can change it back.
One of the worst and most difficult to remove type of viruses is ransomware. Ransomware works by taking complete control of your system. It usually locks you out of all of your data and programs and will only allow one webpage to load. That webpage is usually a page that instructs you on how you can unlock your data by calling a phone number, sending an email to a supplied email address or following a link that takes you to a payment page. All of these are designed to get you to pay for your system to be unlocked. Some with phone numbers will ask you to let them connect to your system remotely and, instead of helping you restore your data, they steal your personal information. In the end, they have your money and your data is still locked. Even if they do unlock your date, you can be 100% sure that they will lock your data again and make you pay to unlock again and again and again. Never deal with these people. Never contact them. As soon as you see that your system has been locked by ransomware, turn it off and take it to a specialist who can remove the offending software or perform a complete wipe of the storage drive without losing your data.
Another way you can become a victim of identity theft is through phone scams. One particular phone scam has been used for years and still comes up from time to time as it is very effective. What usually happens is that you will get a call from a scammer who identifies themselves as someone who works for Microsoft, an antivirus company or other legitimate security company. They will tell you that they have detected a virus on your system and that they need to connect to your system remotely to remove it. What they actually do is steal your data, your browsing history and install viruses that will keep track of your keystrokes and other data and send it to them periodically. It is important to note that neither Microsoft or any other legitimate company will ever call you for any reason, especially to tell you that you have a virus unless you've called them first and scheduled a callback. If you ever get a call such saying it is Microsoft or computer security company that you didn't call first, don't talk to them. Simply hang up.
Malware is very difficult to remove once it has infected your system. Most viruses compromise your antivirus program so even if the antivirus learns of a new virus, if you are already infected with that virus, there is little your antivirus can do about it. Gateway Computers can remove the most stubborn viruses with our special tools and knowledge and, if necessary, can backup your data and settings, reinstall your operating system and programs and then replace your data and settings. This is the best way of making sure a really difficult virus has bee removed completely. As said, this is only necessary for the most difficult ransomware and destructive viruses. Normally we can remove a virus without having to resort to such drastic measures.