Internet Safety Guide—Malware

Cassie Tolhurst

What is Malware?

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

For more online safety tips, check out these related articles:

Internet Safety Guide—Parental Controls

Internet Safety Guide—Staying Safe on Social Media

Internet Safety Guide—Online Shopping Safety

References

¹https://www.superantispyware.com/blog/2013/03/28/malware-spyware-virus-worm-etc-whats-the-difference/
²https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-malware-malware-101-how-do-i-get-malware-simple-attacks.html
³https://blog.malwarebytes.com/101/2016/05/how-to-tell-if-youre-infected-with-malware/
4http://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafety/how-to-avoid-malware/1/