What are Viruses and Malware?
A computer virus, much like a flu virus, is designed to spread from host to host and has the ability to replicate itself. Similarly, in the same way that viruses cannot reproduce without a host cell, computer viruses cannot reproduce and spread without programming such as a file or document.
Malware is malicious software engineered to work for its makers, and not for the computer user. Malware might steal your identity, install unwanted programs, or encrypt and hold your digital files for ransom. As a term, “malware” covers all sorts of malicious software, including Trojans, spyware, adware, ransomware, and viruses. Malware is now often delivered by exploiting flaws (“exploits”) in legitimate programs.
How do I protect against it?
- Download a proven anti-malware scanner with real-time protection such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium.
- Keep your programs updated so cybercriminals can’t exploit them.
- Protect your wifi with an encrypted password. Never use open wifi.
- Use WPA/WPA2 encryption standard on your home wifi; do not use WEP encryption.
- Back up important files to a local hard drive.
- Do not open emails from people/companies you don’t know.
- Do not click on links sent to you via email or IM without first “hovering” your pointer over the link to confirm it is sending you to a legitimate site.
How do I know if I may be infected?
Look for issues characteristics of a malware infection:
- Does your web browser freeze or become unresponsive?
- Do you get redirected to web pages other than the ones you are trying to visit?
- Are you bombarded with pop-up messages?
- Does your computer run slower than usual?
- Do you see new icons on your desktop that you don’t recognize?
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