Malware, short for malicious software includes viruses and spyware which may steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. Criminals create appealing websites, desirable downloads, and compelling stories to lure you to links that will download malware--especially on computers that don't use adequate security software. But you can minimize the havoc that malware can wreak and reclaim your computer and electronic information. 

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Computers may have malware if they:
  • Slow down, malfunction, or display repeated error messages
  • Won't shut down or restart
  • Serve up a lot of pop-up ads, or display them 
If you suspect malware is on your computer:
  • Stop shopping, banking, and other online activities that involve usernames, passwords, or any other sensitive or personal information.
  • Confirm that your security software is active and current. At a minimum, your computer should have antivirus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall.
  • Once your security software is up-to-date, run it to scan your computer for viruses and spyware, deleting anything the program identifies as a problem. 
  • If you suspect your computer is still infected, you may want to run a second anti-virus or anti-spyware program--or call in professional help.
  • Once your computer is back up and running, think about how malware could have been downloaded to your machine, and what you could do to avoid it in the future.