What is Malware?

Malware is a term used to describe malicious software that is intended to control your computer for a multitude of purposes; none of them good. It includes viruses, worms, Trojans, rootkits, spyware and adware.  Malware can be used to steal information such as passwords and confidential data, corrupt files/data and, possibly, spread to other computers and the campus network.

Prevent Malware by thinking before clicking:

  • On websites: If you are unsure, open another tab and research the software you are being asked to install
  • In email:  Unless you completely trust the source, do not click on a link.  If undecided, hover the mouse over the link and the destination address will be displayed at the bottom of the window.  Verify that it will take you where you expect.
  • In pop-up windows:  Some pop-ups will try to persuade you to install software or perform a free “system scan”.  Often, they will use scare tactics to encourage you to use whatever they offer.  Close the pop-up without clicking on anything inside, including the X in the corner.  Use the Windows Task Manager accessed by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del or right-clicking the Task Bar.
  • In software installers:  Some software installers will attempt to install malware with the intended product.  Pay close attention to what you are clicking and, if unsure, cancel the install.

Signs you may have malware:

  • Anti-virus software, such as Sophos, provides a notifcation or warning
  • Anti-malware software, such as Malwarebytes, providing a notification or warning
  • Slow system performance
  • Web browser takes you to sites you didn’t intend
  • More than normal amount of pop-up ads
  • The Home page of your web browser has been changed
  • Toolbars appear that you didn’t install or request
  • You lose ability to access files to which you previously had access

What to do if you suspect malware: