Malware is malicious software installed on your computer, smartphone and other devices without authorization. Malware typically collects information about you — the passwords you use or the websites you visit — simply by watching you type or surf online. Malware may also take over your computer and send emails you didn’t write or spread computer viruses.
Malware is usually installed through:
- Links in phishing emails
- Websites that attack computers with out-of-date operating systems or antivirus software
- Links in pop-up ads
- Shareware and other downloadable software
- Deceptive security software offers or fake antivirus programs
Your computer may have malware if it:
- Operates slowly
- Is inundated by pop-ups
- Redirects you to URLs different from those entered
- Includes unknown toolbars and icons
- Displays unusual error messages
If you suspect your computer has been infected with malware, take the necessary steps to remove the unwanted software from your computer.