Even before the internet was established, the problem of computer viruses was a big issue, with distribution generally via infected diskettes. Since the internet, the problem has increased to the extent that the first software most users install is a security suite, but this does not guarantee that you will be safe. A virus is self-replicating and will hook itself onto files and executables, although the term is now being superseded by the word malware (malicious software).
Malware and spyware are insidious forms of software which can be installed on your machine, with malicious intent, to either steal confidential information, such as passwords and credit card data, or hi-jack your browser, or even disable your anti-virus. We commonly see malware and spyware on hard drives which arrive for data recovery, although these are not always the reason for the data recovery being required.
You Data and Information are at Risk
There are many types of malware, some are fairly harmless but irritating, but a large number are extremely malicious, causing file content to be rewritten, or the important system structures to be overwritten on your hard drive. It is therefore important to detect if your system has been compromised, otherwise your data may be systematically destroyed if the virus has a payload which overwrites file contents.
Spyware is software which attempts to steal important information, in particular on-line transactions, including usernames, password and credit-card details. There are some forms of malware called ransomware, reporting a supposed legal transgression which forces you to pay a fee on-line in order to continue using your computer. Scareware claims an intrusion or problem has been detected on your computer, attempting to scare you into downloading and buying some software which purports fix the problem.
Removing Virus, Malware etc.
Assuming you haven’t fallen into the traps which can occur, you will want to remove the malicious software. This is not always easy, especially if it has hi-jacked your security software, or internet browser, whereby the pages you visit are not from the authentic website.
There are numerous programs for removing different malware and spyware, which very often require a combination of applications to remove them. This process can be lengthy, and is not even guaranteed to succeed, meaning that if you have a destructive malware program installed, the integrity of you data may be further compromised. The sure, but very drastic method is to reinstall the operating system, but in many cases, this is the faster and safer method. The most important step though, is to secure your important data, for which data recovery could be your best option.
Data Recovery Implications
The implications of malware on data recovery can range from almost no impact, through damaged files, to severe corruption of the file system. We have received many hard drives for data recovery, where the partition table, or file system structures have been overwritten. This requires specialist knowledge of the data structures, which have to be replicated in the virtual volume created during the data recovery process. As long as the data files have not been damaged, the results of data recovery from a malware damaged drive are generally excellent.