Malware? Is that really a word?


Since the internet age, health-care documentation (ie medical transcription) services have been made widely available to users via remote access from anywhere they are, providing they have internet access. That is one of the perks for this business. It’s a portable job and folks can do it from just about anywhere for the most part.  The down side from working from outside a corporate network is that the average user doesn’t really think about being infected by  some of the “bad” things that come from being on the internet. All that stuff was typically handled by the goofy guy with the glasses and pocket protector down the hall in the corporate office. I am sure most of you have heard the term “Malware”. That is the acronym for Malicious Software. The bad part about this is that you typically don’t even know you were infected until all of a sudden things stop working as they should and the computer starts getting slower and slower. Most folks say “I guess it’s time to get a new computer; this one is getting to slow to do the job”.   While new technology and hardware are always getting faster and better  and we all love to get that brand new PC out of the box, fire it up and grin ear to ear how fast and snappy it is, that’s not totally the solution. (More on that in a moment) Malware will take its toll on even the fastest PC’s.  Here are some interesting facts:

  • Experts estimate that 48% of all computers on the internet are infected.
  •  Malware is transmitted from infected photos, infected PDFs, infected Java files, ActiveX controls that take advantage of Windows/Internet Explorer vulnerabilities and numerous other means.
  • A new virus is released on the Internet every 30 seconds.

Here’s the problem – the nature of this new malware is that it is hard to detect, often hiding on hard disk boot tracks. It’s hard to remove often requiring complete re-installation of the operating system, and anti-virus software alone no longer works against it.

OK have I made you want to cut off your PC and sit and look at its dark screen sitting in the corner in fear that it will be attacked at any moment? Good but that was not my intent.  The intent was to make you aware how fast you can be shutdown by some vicious website or document someone emails you. Anyone who works in health-care documentation knows the importance of staying online and being productive.

Now for the good news.  There are some great anti-viruses and anti-malware solutions available and some of great ones are free. In today’s world it’s no longer ok to just have an antivirus program on your machine. It takes a team of applications and some paying attention to keep you humming along. And yes that old PC can run a lot better and you can get more mileage out of it if its cleaned up by deleting unneeded older applications, making sure it has the latest updates for the particular operating system (Windows) and making sure you have updated antivirus/anti-malware software and of course running a scan or two every  now and then. A full format and reinstall of Windows and your needed applications is a great way to bring that old computer back to life verses throwing it away but it takes some time and patience to do so. Certainly an alternative than shelling out bucks for a new one.

While there are lots of great applications available, one that is a must have for every user is called MalwareBytes ( ). It does an extraordinary job of cleaning up infections cause by Malware. And there is a free version that works as well as any I have seen.  I highly recommend taking a look at this one and installing and running a scan. You just may be surprised at what it turns up.