Malicious software, commonly referred to as malware, is software and/or program code/instructions inserted into a system, usually covertly, with the intention of compromising one or more of confidentiality, integrity, or availability associated with the system or the data it processes. A cyber criminal may use malware to steal information or carry out malicious activities. Malware is an overarching term that encompasses more traditional virus, worm, and trojan software, as well as modern ransomware, droppers/payloads, rootkits, and sniffer/logger threats.
How do you get malware?
The two most common ways for malware to be installed on your device are by accidentally downloading it while trying to download legitimate software, or through a phishing attack. In both instances, there are easy steps to take to protect yourself.
How to protect yourself
Be aware of downloads
Be vigilant when downloading software, or documents. If you are downloading something from the internet, ensure that you go to legitimate sources. You may also be able to cryptographically validate the source of some software. Cyber criminals can make fake websites that look very convincing. Ensure you always check that the web address (URL) is accurate and look for spelling errors or incorrect logos before downloading anything.
Avoid phishing attacks
Learn more about phishing attacks and how to avoid them.
Install anti-malware software
Install and use reputable anti-malware software. Ensure it is set up to automatically scan other software and documents before they are downloaded to your computer. You can also set it up to scan your device at regular intervals.