What is Malware ?

Malware is short for “malicious software."

It includes viruses, keyloggers - programs that run in the background and record your every keystroke - and spyware that get installed on your computer, phone, or mobile device without your consent.

These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online activity. Criminals use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud.

Getting rid of malware and limiting future exposure

If you suspect there is malware on your computer, take these steps:

  • Stop: Stop shopping, banking, and doing other online activities that involve user names, passwords, or other sensitive information.
  • Update: Update your security software, and then run it to scan your computer for viruses and spyware. Delete anything it identifies as a problem. You may have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
  • Contact: If your computer is covered by a warranty that offers free tech support, contact the manufacturer. Before you call, write down the model and serial number of your computer, the name of any software you've installed, and a short description of the problem.
  • Seek tech support: Many companies – including some affiliated with retail stores – offer tech support on the phone, online, at their store, and in your home. Telephone and online assistance are generally the least expensive, but may require you to do some of the work yourself. Taking your computer to a store is usually less expensive than a home service call.
  • Report: Once malware is detected and removed from your system, try to determine how the malware was obtained in order to prevent future attacks. You can also report malware to FBI Website for Internet crimes at www.ic3.gov.
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