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how to safely remove malware from your mac or pc computer

Got Malware? Here’s how you can remove it effectively and safely.

Malware refers to malicious software designed to do damage or unwanted action to a computer. Malware only exists to exploit your personal data or do harm.  It can also be used to take control of your device and make it a part of a botnet.

Malware enters a computer when you install or download a particularly infected file. Spam emails are one of the most common ways of spreading malware.  You can also expose your device to malware by clicking on a link on a website or downloading software from unauthorised sources.

But how can you tell if your device has been infected by malware? If you suspect your device has malware, how can you remove them and protect your device in the future? Let’s find out.

How to Tell If Your Device Has Malware?

It’s not always apparent that your device has malware. Especially, modern malware like spyware and cryptominers are hard to detect and even harder to remove. The most common types of malware are –

  • Worms
  • Viruses
  • Bots & Botnets
  • Trojan Horses
  • Ransomware
  • Adware & Scams
  • Spyware
  • Cryptominers

Even though confirming the presence of malware in your devices may be difficult, here are some indicative signs –

  • Your device is running slowly and crashing often
  • You are experiencing unusual behaviour, such as ads or pop-up windows, even when you are not browsing on the Internet
  • Your device storage is suddenly starting to fill up
  • Emails and messages are sent without your knowledge
  • Your device has experienced a blue screen of death (BSOD)
  • Programs are opening and closing on their own

How to Remove Malware From a MAC?

Step 1: Disconnect from the Internet

Disconnecting from the Internet will prevent sending more of your data to the malware server and stop the spread of the malware. Download all necessary tools beforehand, and do not reconnect to the Internet until the process is complete.

Step 2: Enter safe mode

Safe mode is a way to run your computer to allow only the essential software and tools to load. It prevents the malware to load automatically to remove it more easily. To enter safe mode on Mac, press and hold the Shift key at the startup. Release the Shift key when you see the Apple logo.

Step 3: Check your activity monitor

Open your activity monitor to look for malicious applications. If you’re unsure which one is the malware, look for anything that looks unfamiliar or unusual and close it. Also, check the CPU tab to see which applications are occupying most of your CPU. If you have malware, you will usually notice them working the hardest.

Step 4: Run a malware scanner

A good quality malware scanner can remove the most common infections. But if you already have an active antivirus program on your computer, use a different one for scanning. Otherwise, your antivirus might not detect the malware right away. We also recommend downloading and installing an on-demand scanner from a reliable source before starting to remove the malware.

Step 5: Fix your web browser

To prevent re-infecting your PC, verify your default homepage on your browser. You should also clear your cache to eradicate the malware.

How to Remove Malware From a PC?

Step 1: Disconnect from the Internet

Disconnecting from the Internet will prevent sending more of your data to the malware server and stop the spread of the malware. Before disconnecting from the web, download all necessary tools such as malware scanners, antivirus software, etc.

Step 2: Enter safe mode

Entering safe mode stops the malware from loading if it is set to load automatically. To enter safe mode, restart your PC. When the sign-in screen appears, hold down the Shift key and click on Restart. After your PC restarts again, go to the “Choose an option” screen. Select Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, and then Startup Settings. Click the Restart button on the next window. Then you will see a menu with numbered startup options. Press number 4 or F4 to start your PC in Safe Mode.

Step 3: Check your activity monitor

Open your activity monitor to look for malicious applications. If you’re unsure which one is the malware, look for anything that looks unfamiliar or unusual and close it. If a sketchy program is taking up most of the CPU, the odds are it is malware.

Step 4: Run a malware scanner

A good quality malware scanner can remove the most common infections. But if you already have an active antivirus program on your computer, use a different one for scanning. Otherwise, your antivirus might not be able to detect the malware.

Step 5: Fix your web browser

To prevent re-infecting your PC, verify your default homepage on your browser. You should also clear your cache to eradicate the malware.

If you still notice the previously mentioned symptoms of malware, you might need to reinstall your OS. Learn how to reinstall macOS and Windows successfully.

How to Protect Your Device from Malware?

Cybercriminals can hide malware in many clever forms. One common way of spreading malware is hiding them in spam email, an image file, a word processing document, or a PDF file. These attachments can download and install malware on your system just by you clicking on them. To prevent spam emails in your inbox, make sure that your email address remains private.

But how can you check if your email address is visible to the Internet?

To check your email address visibility, go to Sniff Email — an online platform dedicated to finding out if your email address exists on the Internet. Enter your email address in the search field and click fetch to find out if your email address exists on the web within a few seconds. Based on the results, you can take appropriate action to remove it.

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