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Protect Your Computer

What’s this on my computer? Here's how to keep your computer free of adware (software that automatically displays or downloads advertising) and malware (software that is intended to damage or disable your computer).

Adware and malware generally are installed on computers through your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome) and sometimes through your email (clicking on an attachment).

This can occur when you inadvertently click on something (a link or a pop-up) that appears and without examining details.  One click (just to get something out of the way) can result in a computer being infected.

When you are checking email, you could be curious about an attachment and infect your computer when opening the file.

So, how can you prevent having these kinds of problems on your computer? While nothing is 100 percent foolproof, your eyes are your best defense. If anything looks funny or out of place, don’t click. Close your browser rather than take a chance on getting some little bug.

If you receive an email with an attachment, look at the details. Who is this from? What is the subject line stating? Can I see the file extension of the attachment? Stay away from anything that has an .exe, .com, .bat or .zip extension. Our email system tries to block these files, but some get through. If the email is from someone you might know, does the subject line reflect that person's personality? Is this an email as a follow-up to a discussion you had earlier?

What to do if you get infected

If you have something pop up that you do not recognize and it is preventing you from continuing your work, shut down your computer by holding the power button down until your screen goes dark.

If you think you have gotten infected, again shut down your computer. You want to get into a diagnostic mode of your operating system (Windows 7, for example). This is a state of the operating system where only the essential programs are loaded to get it to the dekstop and a workable situation. To do this, turn your computer back on. When you see the Dell, HP or other brand splash screen, start hitting the F8 button on your keyboard. Up and down, up and down. Don’t just hold it down. You should get to a black screen with a lot of white lettering giving you start-up options. Select Safe Mode with Networking. Use the arrow keys to navigate the menu and the Enter key to make this selection.

Once in Safe Mode, close the Help window that appears. Now open Internet Explorer or Firefox so that you can get some tools to help clean your computer.

Two of the main tools we use are ComboFix and Malwarebytes. Both are free.Download ComboFix

For ComboFix, in Internet Explorer, the page will change and then you should see this image at the bottom of your screen.Run ComboFix

Left-click on Run and allow the program to configure itself. This might take a little while. Just follow the prompts and let ComboFix run. If you are asked to restart your computer, do so.Firefox ComboFix

Firefox is much the same except you might see this box appear: 

Click on Save File and then go to your Download folder and run the file from there. Again, just follow the prompts and allow the program to run.

For Malwarebytes, in Internet Explorer, left-click on Run and let the program install and run. Make sure you uncheck the Free Trial box before letting it scan your computer. IE Malwarebytes

In FireFox, save the file, go to your Downloads folder and run the program from there. Again, uncheck the Free Trial box before running the program.Firefox Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes will scan your computer and then have you click on the Results button. Be sure you click on everything in the Results window and then click on Remove. You then may have to restart your computer.

If your infection is bad enough that these tools do not help, you may want to think about reformatting your hard drive. Be sure to copy your data before starting so you have recovery disks if you must start over.

Blair Johnson, Desktop Support Specialist; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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