"Malware" is short for "malicious software”

"Malware" is a term for any software that gets installed on your machine and performs unwanted tasks, often for some third party's benefit.  Malware programs can range from being simple annoyances (pop-up advertising) to causing serious computer invasion and damage (e.g., stealing passwords and data or infecting other machines on the network).


Types of Malware

·         Virus - Software that can replicate itself and spread to other computers or are programmed to damage a computer by deleting files, reformatting the hard disk, or using up computer memory.

·         Adware - Software that is financially supported (or financially supports another program) by displaying ads when you're connected to the Internet.

·         Spyware - Software that surreptitiously gathers information and transmits it to interested parties. Types of information that is gathered includes the Websites visited, browser and system information, and your computer IP address.

·         Browser Hijacking software - Advertising software that modifies your browser settings (e.g., default home page, search bars, toolbars), creates desktop shortcuts, and displays intermittent advertising pop-ups. Once a browser is hijacked, the software may also redirect links to other sites that advertise, or sites that collect Web usage information.


Myth: I can tell if my computer has an infection. It will behave strangely and stop working.

·         Today’s threats are designed to evade your detection so they can keep working away in the background, stealing your private information like credit card details and account logins and send it off to crooks. Don’t count on visual evidence to clue you in. Make sure your security software is installed, up-to-date and run full system scans on a regular basis.

Locked Computer


Myth: If my computer is not connected to the internet or network, a virus cannot attack my system.

·         Unfortunately, no computer is an island. Computers need software updates loaded and patches downloaded. In most cases, the network does not deliver the virus, the user does in the form of a USB device such as a free trade show thumb drive. Research indicates that that one out of every 8 attacks on computers can or do enter via a USB device. Some cyber security experts see the USB thumb drive as the greatest threat to cyber security.  Do you regularly use a USB thumb drive?


Myth: Apple computers and products are safe from viruses, so I don’t have to worry.

·         Years ago, cybercriminals didn’t target Apple products. But, with the increased popularity of these products cybercriminals have migrated to the Apple platform as well.  Apple-specific malware is on the rise (e.g., the Flashback Trojan) and many current online threats are not platform specific. You’ve got to secure every connected device – PC and Mac, Android and iOS.

Myth: Malware is something I should only worry about for my desktop and laptop computers.

·         Mobile devices are not immune from cyber threats. Any Internet-connected device, like a smartphone or tablet, can be infected by online threats. Cybercrime is on the rise for mobile devices because of the popularity of the devices.  Remember, the more popular the device the higher the risk of a cybercrime if you do not protect the device!  Mobile malware is on the rise.

Myth: My computer is safe; I’m using some free antivirus I got online.

·         Free antivirus is a great way to provide a basic level of PC protection, but it’s simply not enough for the bad stuff like ransomware (where cybercriminals lock you out of your computer unless you pay their “ransom”). Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report shows ransomware threats have increased substantially in the last year. In actuality, people who get their computers tied up with malware that their free AV didn’t block, often spend more in repair bills than security software would have cost in the first place.


The Internet is a shared resource and securing it is Our Shared Responsibility. Our Shared Responsibility is the theme for National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015. - Visit:


Related Stories

Data Privacy Day is January 28, 2019

Data Privacy Day, held annually in the United States on Jan. 28, is an extension of Data Protection Day celebrated in the European Union.

Cyber Aware - Identity Theft

Tips To Prevent Identity Theft