Identifying and Removing Malware


What is Malware?

Phishing attempts aren’t just about trying to get you to send money or your personal information. Some scams involve malware. Malware, short for malicious software, is a program unknowingly installed on your computer due to clicking bad links, downloading files, or opening attachments.

  • Malware has many different forms and scammers have a wide array of tactics to try and infect your computer. Some of the most common ways malware can get on your computer are:
  • Downloading infected files or attachments from emails.
  • Downloading content on file-sharing sites, or illegal downloads of movies and TV shows.
  • Clicking on links from fake pop-ups on website, made to look legitimate.
  • Clicking on ads on suspicious sites.

There are many types of malware, but once malware is on your device, scammers can get access to your sensitive information, send you unwanted ads, hold your data hostage, and further jeopardize the security of your device.

How do I know if I have Malware?

There are quite a few signs to look out for to find out if your computer has been infected with malware.

1.      You might notice that your device seems a little…off. Apps may crash suddenly, your whole computer may run slowly, or even your battery may not hold a charge. Ultimately, your computer may be having a hard time performing normal functions.

2.      There might be changes that you don't remember making. This will include different icons in your browser, programs you don’t remember installing, or even new search engines, homepages, and more.

3.      Fraudulent activity on your emails or social media. Malware can also hack into your personal accounts and send messages and makes posts in an attempt to spread the malware to other computers.

4.      Limited functionality. You might find you can't uninstall some new program or are having a hard time even turning your computer on and off.

5.      Increased pop ups and ads. You might see a lot more ads and pop ups when you’re browsing the internet. This will happen even on sites you wouldn’t expect, like official government sites.

And, of course, sometimes you won’t notice anything! Some malware is good at hiding their activity, and work in the background to access your personal information. This is why it is so important to learn how to protect yourself and your devices from potentially being infected with malware.

Removing Malware

Removing malware from your computer comes down to getting virus protection software on your computer! There are a number of reputable programs out there, like Norton, McAfee, Webroot, and more. A lot of the time they will do the work for you.

If you don’t want to invest in antivirus software but still think you may need to remove malware, check out this article from Norton. They will walk you through step by step on how to enter Safe Mode on your computer, uninstall suspicious programs, and clear your cache.

If the malware infecting your computer is particularly aggressive, you may also need to take your device to a professional to make sure it is completely removed.


Avoiding Malware

You can avoid unknowingly downloading malware on your device by exercising caution and following cybersecurity best practices. Like we've mentioned before, here are some tips to make sure you don’t get a malicious program on your computer!

1.      Keeping your antivirus software updated. (See the section above to view recommended software, or check out this article)

2.      Stop before you click any links or files. Verify the sender, do your own independent research on the vendor, and trust your gut. If something is too good to be true, or seems suspicious, don’t click!

3.      Avoid pop up ads

4.      Keep your computer or device software updated. Software updates, while sometimes annoying, often contain upgrades and fixes to security issues in previous versions.


Check out our other articles on cybersecurity here!


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