Reassura Guide to a Healthy Computer- How I found an “aggressive menace” on mine

During lockdown, my laptop was my vital piece of work kit. But the more I used it the more I was convinced it was slowing down, touchpad seemed glitchy, websites were slower loading it just didn’t seem right. At Reassura our scam avoidance advice often includes making sure that you are using an Anti-Virus protection and to check it is up to date and switched on. However, as I found out a few weeks ago even that doesn’t guarantee that you’re safe.

So, when I started noticing these issues, I thought its time to run an extra check. I ran a Malwarebytes free download check. They don’t ask for any credit card details or anything and it installs in about 2 minutes, the scan then takes another 2 minutes, at the end of which all looked good but I did notice that there were 40 files quarantined. See blow:

So, what were these quarantines files?

I had no idea what “PUPOptional.Drive The life” was and why there were 40 different ones across my C drive and Registry. As the Virus Research Org wrote:

If the Pup.Optional.Drivethelife malware lurks in the shadows of your system, prepare for trouble. The invader falls under the Adware category. It is an aggressive menace that corrupts your web browser and turns them into ad-displaying slaves. Even web pages that used to be ad-free get covered in banner and in-text ads. Even your videos get paused for commercial breaks.”

And, obviously, nobody would want something like that lurking on  their device and I was delighted that it was removed but it did make me think that even though I know a bit about viruses and malware my knowledge was pretty limited on other nasties such as adware and trojans.

So, let’s start with some definitions:

Malware- refers to any malicious program which is detrimental to your device, anything that connects to the internet can have malware. Here are the more common forms of Malware.

Adware- is software that puts up unwanted advertising on your device. Although not as obviously threating as other malwares the ability to push users away from online searches to advertising supported results, covering screens with hard to close pop-ups etc is intrusive and wastes the users time.

Ransomware- is malware which either encrypts your files or locks you out of your device and demands a ransom to get them back.

Virus- is a type of malware which attaches to a program, such as a document or download, which can then spread on its own after the initial opening or downloading.

Trojan- is a type of malware that hides its real purpose. They silently steal your details, spam other victims from your accounts or even load other malwares.

How do I know if I have Malware?

Well, it could be like me and the system seems to be running slowly, it can be that you seem to be getting a lot more ads than before, battery life could be shorter than before or sometimes it’s hard to notice. What I have learnt is that different AV, (Anti-Virus), software seem to have different areas of expertise and that as well as having your standard AV software running its worth putting in your diary to run a Malwarebytes scan every 2 or 3 months and clean out the nasties that may have been missed. And yes my laptop is running well again!