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5 Ways to Sidestep the Dangers of Malware

Viruses. Adware. Trojan Horse. Spyware. Bots. Ransomware. Worms. What do all of these have in common (besides sounding like codenames from a Bond movie)? They’re all forms of malware. According to the cybersecurity experts at Kaspersky Lab, “Malware, short for ‘malicious software,’ refers to a type of computer program designed to infect a legitimate user's computer and inflict harm on it in multiple ways.” 

Since you would never voluntarily download programs that can damage your computer, corrupt your operating system, capture your keystrokes, or mine your personal data, malware developers employ creative methods to gain access to your systems. Their methods can range from email attachments and social media links to infected flash drives and corrupt download files.

To protect your personal devices, follow these tips:

Malware protection software is a must! If you don’t have it, install some immediately. If you have it but haven’t updated recently, do it now. Last, but not least, make sure you enable it. A quality malware protection program will not only protect you from future attacks, but also allow you to scan, identify, and remove any existing malware you may have already picked up.

Update your browser and apps. Software developers work hard to stay ahead of the latest cyber threats. When they create a new version of their program or app, they often include updates that offer increased protection. Sure, constant update notices can be frustrating—especially if you have a lot of apps on your phone. But taking a couple of minutes to download the latest update can safeguard you against the newest malware iterations.

Be careful what you click. Since so much of online navigation involves clicking your mouse or tapping a screen, it’s easy to form a “click first, ask questions later” habit. And that tendency is exactly what many malware creators are counting on. Before you click on a pop-up window of any sort, take the time to read the messaging. If you’re not certain the pop-up is from a trusted site, you’re better off closing your browser completely.

Connect with caution. With so much attention devoted to online interactions and network security, we often forget about to check the physical devices we connect to our computers. Before you access information on thumb drives, external hard drives, or any other peripheral devices, be sure to run them through your protection program.

Don’t take the clickbait. As a rule of thumb, secure websites won’t draw you in with social media posts that contain too-good-to-be-true offers and phrases like “…you won’t believe what happened next!” Those are classic clickbait—marketing tactics designed to exploit your natural curiosity. And while not every website that uses clickbait will infect your computer with malware, the reward isn’t worth the risk. 

For more information on the effects of malware and how to remove it from your computer, click here.