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Malware and how to avoid it

Malware is short for malicious software. The term refers to computer programs that are made to infiltrate computers or other electronic devices without the consent of the user. It is a general term used to describe trojans, spyware, viruses and worms.

How they work

Viruses and worms – these are malicious softwares meant to spread without the user’s knowledge. They spread to other legitimate software in the user’s computer and end up affecting the functionality.

Trojans and rootkits – Trojan horses are harmful software that come masked as useful software so users download them thinking they are helpful. Rootkits work by hiding malware so that they are not discovered by programs that are created to remove viruses.

Spyware and keyloggers: they are used in identity theft to steal money from businesses, banks and computer users.

How to know your computer/ device is attacked

  • Your device gets incredibly slow. This is because malware slows down the system and compromises how your computer works.
  • You get several unexpected pop-up adverts. This is a form of malware called adware and it makes your computer display different types of adverts.
  • Your system gets many freezes and malfunctions. You may also notice that it takes longer to reboot the system.
  • Your device space seems taken up even though you do not have a lot of material. This is because the malware is eating your space. Your internet activity also gets abnormally high as the malware is engaging in activities in the background and eating up data.
  • The browser in your device keeps changing without your prompt. This could possibly due to a software you downloaded.

How to guard against malware

  • Be careful when you are online. Watch out for fishy domain names as that could indicate that you are getting into a risky website.
  • Mitigate early. If you see any sign of malware such as pop up ads, slowing down of your computer, and unusual activities, use an antivirus to stop it from spreading.
  • Keep your device updated. Your browser, operating system and plugins should always be up to date to protect your device from attacks.
  • Do not click on pop up adverts no matter how appealing or relevant they look. Do not download software from websites you do not trust and avoid forwarding emails from sources you are not familiar with.
  • Get an antivirus. There are many antiviruses that get rid of malware and even protect your computer from attacks.