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Malware is a destructive force that can cause a great deal of harm to your computing devices, your personal information and even your finances.
By using an updated anti-malware program, enabling a firewall, and keeping your Operating System updated with the latest security patches, you can go a long way toward protecting your device from malware attacks.
But following the above security measures is still not a guarantee that you will be completely protected from malware attacks. Criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to find vulnerabilities in your computer’s security.
You shouldn’t just rely on the above preventive measures. The first important defensive measure is to understand how malware gets onto your computer in the first place.
Malware is a software program that’s intended to disrupt your computer’s normal operations, gather personal and potentially sensitive information, or get into the computer’s main processing controls, altering them or rendering them non-functioning. The term malware is an abbreviation for “malicious software.”
There are a number of different forms of malware that can include, but are not limited to: computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, dialers, spyware, adware, rogue security software, and more.
Any of these types of malware can cause a significant amount of harm to you or to your computing device. Moreover, the malware may be running stealthily on your device without your awareness.
Here are some sneaky ways that malware gets into your computer:
1) Through Email Links or Attachments
You’ve seen them by now – those pesky spam email messages that say you should check out this site or that one to get the inside track on a wonderful bargain. Or maybe, you’ve received an email from someone in your contacts list that didn’t quite sound like them.
If you click on a suspicious link or open an attachment (such as any number of cute puppy or kitten pictures that make their way around the Internet), you could be opening the door to malware.
Always know the source of the email before you click any links – and even then, it’s not a bad idea to confirm that the sender hasn’t been hacked. If you want to open an attachment, make sure that you either verify with the person who sent you the link to be sure it’s authentic or use an anti-virus program that scans all links and attachments before allowing you on those sites.
2) Clicking on Scareware Popups
Yes, there are plenty of tricky popup ads all over the Internet and some will even claim that your computer is infected with a virus – just “click here” right now to resolve the problem.
These popup ads are effective because most people don’t have a clue about how computer viruses are transmitted and think that the popups represent official notices, as if they’ve come from programs that are already running on their computers.
However, in many cases, these popups are usually malware programs trying to trick you into clicking on the ad so that they can gain access to your computer. Then, your computer will really be infected!
Always know what kind of anti-virus program you have running on your computer and only respond to those requests that come from that program.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as a safe Internet browser. Firefox, IE, and even Chrome are all susceptible to malware.
4) Using the Default Adobe Acrobat Reader
When you read PDF files, in most cases, Adobe Acrobat Reader is the default program that opens them. However, opening a PDF that has been created by a cybercriminal can infect your computer with malware.
PDF files are different than other document files and it’s important that you keep your Adobe programs updated with the latest security patches.
5) Logging in to Sites through an Email Link
One of the most common mistakes people make today is to click on login links sent from the “stores” they frequent or the “banks” they use. No store or financial institution will ever send an email requesting you to login.
This is usually a sign of a hacking or malware attack. If you have any questions or doubts, close the email immediately and call the business directly. Never use the link provided.
These are just 5 of the ways that malware can get into your computer, but there are many others. Remember, the more steps you take to be safe and secure, the more effective you’ll be at keeping your computer running efficiently for years to come.