What is Malware? Malware is short for malicious software, a term that refers to a large variety of intrusive software. This can include viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and any other malicious program that acts against the intent of the computer user.
Some types of malware are very harmful, viruses for example. Other types of malware include adware and spyware, while not necessarily harmful to your computer, can still can you issues with pop-ups, ads, and a slower system.
So how do you know you might have some type of malware? Be on the lookout for the following issues:
- Pop-ups. These are small windows that pop-up over what you are doing. Simply annoying ones include advertisements or promotions for businesses. More worrisome are the pop-ups that tell you that your computer is infected with a virus and include a link to remove it. These are always false, and they are sometimes very hard to get rid of. If you have anti-virus software installed, your software will notify you directly, or ever resolve the issue before you are even aware of it.
- New browser homepage, new toolbars, new programs on your desktop. Malware will change your homepage without your permission, and sneaky programs can install when you install a legitimate program. Be on the lookout for changes like this.
- Your computer starts running slower, like there are programs running that you aren’t aware of. Check your Task Manager for unusual programs running.
- Unusual error messages, conflicting programs, notifications from your anti-virus program.
So what can you do? There are a variety of anti-malware programs online such as MalawareBytes and Spybot Search & Destroy. Install one of these and update it regularly. It’s far easier to catch malware early and before your computer gets bogged down with pop-ups and error messages. Regular vigilance with a malware and anti-virus program will help keep you safe for malicious programs.