Malware, or malicious software, is designed to infect your computer to fulfill a nefarious purpose—often that purpose is stealing your personal information, corrupting or destroying data, and otherwise wreaking havoc on your computer.
Common Kinds of Malware¹
- Viruses are attached to innocuous programs or files, and designed to spread to other systems.
- Trojans are self-replicating programs hidden within useful or otherwise valid software.
- Spyware monitors your activity and sends information back to its host.
- Ransomware shuts off access to your system and data, then demands payment to unlock it.
How Malware Spreads²
Malware comes in many forms. You can get it from email attachments, downloading files from the internet, peer-to-peer file sharing, or clicking links from a social media scammer—there are lots of possibilities. Be careful what you click!
Signs You May Have Malware³
- Your operating system is running super slowly
- Your computer crashes frequently
- There’s a constant barrage of pop-ups
- Your hard drive is unexpectedly full
- Your browser has a new homepage or toolbars
How to Keep a Clean Machine4
- Don’t install anything on your computer without thoroughly vetting it first
- Delete all spam email and never click on suspicious links
- Keep your operating system and security software up to date
- Use an anti-malware protection program