Malware — short for “malicious software” — includes adware, spyware, worms, Trojan horses, and viruses that can wreak havoc on your computer, track your keystrokes or online activities, or even replicate themselves on the systems of people you share a network with or email regularly. Malware can compromise your digital privacy and increase your risk of identity theft.

Signs Your Computer Is Infected

  • Your computer is slow or unstable.
  • You are bombarded with pop-up ads.
  • There are extra toolbars on your web browser.
  • Your home page or search page settings change unexpectedly.
  • Your online searches are redirected.

How to Protect Your Computer from Malware

  • Only download programs from websites you trust. If you’re unsure whether to trust a program or website, type its name into SpywareGuide to see if anyone has reported that it contains spyware.
  • Read all security warnings, license agreements, and privacy statements associated with any software you download.
  • Never open unexpected email attachments. Verify them first by calling the sender.
  • Always scan attachments and web downloads for viruses first.
  • Avoid P2P file-sharing networks because many downloads come packaged with malware.
  • Keep your computer’s software patched and up to date.
  • Install the latest antivirus software. Scan your computer (including Recycle and Trash bins) regularly and update your antivirus software regularly. Be aware, though, that all virus scanners have limitations, and that virus-writing techniques are evolving continually.
  • Never click “Agree” or “OK” to close a pop-up window. Instead, click the X in the corner of the window to safely close it.
  • Follow appropriate backup procedures.
  • Do not log into secure systems or shop online if you suspect that your computer is infected.

How to Get Rid of Malware

Many kinds of malicious software are designed to be difficult to remove. If you try to uninstall this software like any other program, you might find that the program reappears as soon as you restart your computer. If you’re having trouble or have questions about Sophos antivirus software, contact the Help Desk.

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