What is malware?
Malware (short for malicious software) is a program specifically engineered to compromise the security features on your computer or mobile device, allowing cybercriminals to comb through your personal data and, in some cases, commit identify theft.
How did malware get in?
Anytime you go online, your device is downloading data. Malware can sneak in with that data stream in a variety of ways: through a hole in a popular software program, hidden in an online ad (this is called malvertising) or disguised as a legitimate app that you download.
Malware can hide without producing any tell-tale symptoms as it hacks your email or captures your data, which is why it’s so important to have antivirus software that recognizes and destroys malicious software.
How do I know if my devices are infected?
Be on the lookout for these red flags:
- Your device slows down or gets glitchy
- Pop-up windows appear when you’re surfing
- Friends tell you they got a suspicious email from you that you definitely didn’t send
- Your smartphone battery drains quickly, or shows call/text messages you didn’t send
- Your data usage has spiked (spyware sends audio or video from your smartphone)