Helping you balance your online life

Aug 30th

2012

What is Malware?

What is Malware?
Malware is short for malicious software. Malware is a broad term that encompasses computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, and others. Malware is designed to interfere with normal computer operation, usually giving hackers a chance to gain access to your computer and collect sensitive personal information.
How do you know if your computer has Malware?How do you know if your computer has Malware?
The telltale signs that your computer is infected with a type of malware are:
  • You receive annoying pop-up ads on a regular basis
  • A mysterious new toolbar appears on your computer or browser
  • Your PC is noticeably slow
  • There are new, unfamiliar icons in your system tray

How could your computer get infected with Malware?
The most common ways your computer can get infected with malware are by:
  • Installing freeware or shareware
  • Installing screen savers or games
  • Downloading email attachments
  • Clicking on pop-up ads
  • Not having antivirus software installed on your computer

What do you do if your computer has Malware?
  • Start by running anti-spyware software on a regular basis to catch any programs that may have infected your computer. Some malware programs can be stubborn and difficult to remove, so it might take more than one try.
  • Be careful when downloading free programs, especially music files and media sharing programs. Read the licensing agreements to understand exactly what you're downloading.
  • Protect your computer with a firewall, especially if you use a broadband connection.
  • Use antivirus software to catch computer viruses, worms and Trojan horses before they can do any damage.
  • Don't download any programs from websites you don't know or trust.
  • Adjust your browser's Internet Zone security settings to provide at least a medium level of security. A lower setting makes it easier for malware to access your computer.
  • ActiveX controls are prone to spyware and other malware, so don't approve the installation of any ActiveX controls you haven't already requested.
What else can you do?
We recommend using antivirus software to run a scan. If you don't have a solution in mind already, you can download antivirus programs like Norton 360 or McAfee's latest antivirus software.