Computer viruses are nothing new, and have long been a major source of irritation and damage to computer systems in both the public and private sectors.

Viruses have target goals ranging from infiltrating a business and stealing proprietary information, down to just being an annoyance. Some developers actually write a virus just for the sheer fun of causing destruction to the users’ computers. But there’s a new virus making headlines, and this one is the Hollywood-esque example of what we’ve been told to fear from viruses. Not only does the Rombertik virus steal information from your computer, it has ways of figuring out if it’s been detected which will cause it to initiate a destructive permanent reboot cycle on your Windows system. Just for added fun, it can also send messages to your printer causing it to print out pages that mock you for trying to remove it. Yes, just like in the movies.

The virus itself has a goal, and that’s to glean information. It might be just digging around in your hard drive and your browser history to access account numbers, usernames, and passwords, but it can also be in the form of sending out messages from your computer that appear to come from Microsoft. Once you attempt to remove the virus, it will launch a sequence that causes your computer to reboot… over, and over, and over, without stopping. Basically, once that cycle initiates, there’s no way to get into the computer to remove the virus and you now own a really expensive statue in the shape of a computer.

So how do you protect yourself from a virus that can’t be removed, and self-destructs your computer if it thinks it’s been detected? The first step is to have strong enough antivirus and anti-malware software already installed before it becomes a problem. To do that, you must have an active subscription on a quality antivirus software that you keep up-to-date, and you must install the updates when the software informs you of them. It’s a hassle to wait while your preventive software installs an update, but it’s the only way to keep your computer fully protected against the most recent threats. Trying to find and remove Rombertik actually launches its destruction, so you’re best bet is to keep it from installing in the first place if you can.

The next step is to make sure you’re not clicking on harmful links, going to untrustworthy websites, falling for phishing emails, and other similar avenues by which viruses infiltrate your computer. When you click on an unknown link or unsecure site, you have no verification that you’re not downloading a virus. This is even true in email, and even if the email came from someone you know; the sender’s computer could have been hacked and messages similar to the ones that Rombertik sends out could have gone to everyone that individual has ever emailed. Never click on a link you receive in an email if you weren’t expecting it; if it’s unexpected, highlight the link, right click it, then copy and paste it into a new browser window. That way, the hyperlink behind the text (in this case, the malicious software or website) won’t be brought with it.

Finally, one of the best steps you can take to protect anything you want to keep is to store sensitive or important files on an external hard drive, and then keep that device unplugged from your computer when you’re not using it. Whether it’s your banking or tax information, secure data that pertains to your job, or even just all of your kids’ baby pictures, store that data outside of your existing computer. That way, if you were infected with a virus, not only can the malicious software not retrieve your sensitive information, you won’t lose it when your computer basically becomes useless. You’ll still be out a computer, but at least your files will still be accessible when you replace it.

 

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