Malware is short for "malicious software." It is a collective term for all types of damaging software, such as Trojans, spyware and viruses. The software installs programs without your consent to obtain your personal information or to use your computer to conduct fraudulent activities.
How Malware Works
Criminals are hard at work thinking up creative ways to get malware on your computer. They will lure you to appealing websites, promising desirable downloads and compelling stories. These links actually download malware onto your computer, especially if you don't use adequate security software. Once installed, the malware can steal your personal information, send spam and commit fraud.
How to Identify When Malware Is on Your Computer
One of the most recognizable signs of malware is a sudden change in how your computer is running. The symptoms can include:
- Poor system performance
- Longer startup times for your computer
- Unexpected closing of your browser, or it stops responding
- Unresponsive links, or they take you to unrelated pages
- Pop-up advertising windows appear when the browser is not open
- Additional toolbars are added to the browser
If you suspect malware is on your computer:
- Stop shopping, banking and conducting online activities that involve user names, passwords and other sensitive information.
- Confirm that your security software is active and current. At a minimum, your computer should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and 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.
- Keep your computers' operating systems updated with latest security patches.
- Obtain the latest updates for your web browser software.
- Be cautious of clicking on links in emails or opening attachments, even if you know who sent it. Links in emails can send you to sites that automatically download malware to your machine. Opening attachments—even those that appear to come from a friend or co-worker—also can install malware on your computer.
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust. Downloading free games, file-sharing programs, and customized toolbars may sound appealing, but free software can come with malware.
- Talk about safe computing with your children. Tell your kids that some online activity can put a computer at risk: clicking on pop-ups, downloading "free" games or programs, and posting personal information.
If You Have Already Downloaded Spyware
If you have downloaded spyware, contact your antivirus/Internet security software vendor and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
How Does BB&T Protect You from Malware Scams?
BB&T employs a number of methods to protect your identity. Learn how we place the highest priority on the security of your information.