What is malware?
Malware is a catch-all term for any type of malicious software designed to harm or exploit any programmable device, service or network. Cybercriminals typically use it to extract data that they can leverage over victims for financial gain. That data can range from financial data, to healthcare records, to personal emails and passwords—the possibilities of what sort of information can be compromised have become endless.
- Tricking a victim into providing personal data for identity theft
- Stealing consumer credit card data or other financial data
- Assuming control of multiple computers to launch denial-of-service attacks against other networks
- Infecting computers and using them to mine bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies
- The most common signs that your computer has been compromised by malware are:
- Slow computer performance
- Browser redirects, or when your web browser takes you to sites you did not intend to visit
- Infection warnings, frequently accompanied by solicitations to buy something to fix them
- Problems shutting down or starting up your computer
- Frequent pop-up ads
- Keep your operating system and applications updated. Cybercriminals look for vulnerabilities in old or outdated software, so make sure you install updates as soon as they become available.
- Never click on a link in a popup. Simply close the message by clicking on “X” in the upper corner and navigate away from the site that generated it.
- Limit the number of apps on your devices. Only install apps you think you need and will use regularly. And if you no longer use an app, uninstall it.
- Use a mobile security solution like McAfee® Mobile Security, available for Android and iOS. As malware and adware campaigns continue to infect mobile applications, make sure your mobile devices are prepared for any threat coming their way.
- Don’t lend out your phone or leave your devices unattended for any reason, and be sure to check their settings and apps. If your default settings have changed, or a new app has mysteriously appeared, it might be a sign that spyware has been installed.
- If you don’t already have comprehensive security protection on all your devices, then try out McAfee® Total Protection, which protects all your PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones from online threats while safeguarding your data and identity.
- Avoid clicking on unknown links. Whether it comes via email, a social networking site or a text message, if a link seems unfamiliar, keep away from it.
- Be selective about which sites you visit. Do your best to only use known and trusted sites, as well as using a safe search plug-in like McAfee® WebAdvisor, to avoid any sites that may be malicious without your knowing.
- Beware of emails requesting personal information. If an email appears to come from your bank and instructs you to click a link and reset your password or access your account, don't click it. Go directly to your online banking site and log in there.
- Avoid risky websites, such as those offering free screensavers.
- Only purchase security software from a reputable company via their official website or in a retail store.
- Stick to official app stores. While spyware can be found on official app stores, they thrive on obscure third-party stores promoting unofficial apps. By downloading apps for jailbroken or rooted devices, you bypass built-in security and essentially place your device’s data into the hands of a stranger.
- When looking for your next favorite app, make sure you only download something that checks out. Read app reviews, utilize only official app stores, and if something comes off as remotely fishy, steer clear.
- Do not open an email attachment unless you know what it is, even if it came from a friend or someone you know.
- If you are concerned that your device may be infected, run a scan using the security software you have installed on your device.
- Check your bank accounts and credit reports regularly.