Understanding Antimalware Programs

Recently more companies have realized the potential harm of malware programs, and they have tried to take steps to begin removing malware from their environments. With the onset of the Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA acts, compliance is on the rise and many people have started to realize how vulnerable their private data has become to outside entities. Armed with this knowledge, security practices have become increasingly important for many organizations, and everyone feels the pain as we struggle to maintain a balance between user-friendly computing and secure computing. To combat the problem with malware, many vendors now offer tools that will remove even the toughest malware out there. The industry refers to these programs as antimalware tools.

Antimalware tools scan and remove malware from infected computers. If you type "antimalware" in a search engine, you will discover some of the more than 6 million web pages on the topic. The reason for this relates directly to the inexhaustible amount of malware floating around on the Internet. As discussed previously, most users have become aware of the problem with this type of software only in the last few years. Some people were aware of the problem early and tried to explain to others how difficult it may become, especially in the corporate world, but mostly it was ignored. Now anti-malware has taken the lead in the battle for securing your data.

Antimalware programs work similarly to antivirus scanners—identifying malicious programs on the suspect computer, whether in RAM, on the hard drive, or on network shares connected to the computer. Once the antimalware program has identified the threat, it will either alert the user for further instructions on how to handle the problem, or it will delete the program and eliminate any registry entries associated with the rogue program.

As with antivirus engines, multiple malware scanners are your best bet for eliminating malware programs from suspect computers. You can find these types of programs online, and using them will eliminate the vast majority of malware on an infected computer. For the purposes of malware removal, Windows 7 offers Windows Defender, arguably the largest and most powerful antimalware engine available.

Antimalware programs can identify and remove many of the unwanted programs on your computer, including unwanted browser help objects, startup programs, registry settings, toolbar buttons, Winsock hijackers, Internet Explorer plug-ins, ActiveX controls, DNS hacks, and anonymous proxy rerouters. Each type of unwanted program relates to methods that malware writers employ to get their malicious code onto your computer. Some of the methods employ deceptive tactics to make you believe you are loading a beneficial program onto your computer while manipulating data on your computer so that it can be accessed on remote servers. These programs leave you vulnerable to the less than savory strategy of the malware writer.

Currently many antivirus companies are beginning to enter the world of malware removal by either using third-party applications or purchasing the engines of antimalware programs and integrating them into their own products for malware identification and removal. Although malware may seem similar to a virus, it is indeed a separate category of malicious code. Viruses replicate themselves from computer to computer; malware is a silent threat that users usually unknowingly install.

Also, note that you may have to hand-edit the registry to remove some types of malware. If you require this type of intervention, take great care when editing your computer's registry. Editing the registry can render a computer unusable and require the intervention of a recovery service or large amounts of time to correct. If you are not comfortable editing the registry, consult a computer service or repair shop to remove these types of malicious programs. Most computer service companies can remove these programs within a short period and require only a small fee to clean your computer. This can help immensely when the programs are embedded into the computer or have meta-morphic qualities.

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