Learn about what malware is, what to do if your device is infected and how you can protect yourself in the future.

Step 1:Recognize

Red Flags of Malware

There are a few warning signs that indicate that your device may be infected with malware:

  • Your device is frequently freezing or crashing.
  • Your files are being deleted or modified.
  • New programs, files or desktop icons appear on your device that you didn’t install or create.
  • Apps run or close without your consent.
  • You notice changes to your security settings that you didn’t make.
  • Strange emails or social media messages are being sent to your contacts without your permission.
  • Your default search engine has been changed without your permission.
  • New toolbars appear in the web browser.
  • Browser links redirect to the wrong webpage.
  • Your camera activates without your consent.

Step 2:Immediate Actions

If you suspect that your device has been infected with malware, it is important to take action immediately:

  1. The virus may only be present in a program you recently installed. First, uninstall recent apps and remove new browser extensions.
  2. Download a virus scanner.
  3. Disconnect your device from the internet. This will help stop the spread of malware to other devices on your network.
  4. Restart the device in safe mode. To learn how to restart your specific device in safe mode, go to the device manufacturer’s support site.
  5. Run a full system scan to check if your device is infected.
  6. If a virus is found, delete the file(s).
  7. Rescan your device to check for additional threats. If additional threats are found, delete those files too.
  8. Once the scan comes back clean, restart your device. It no longer needs to be in safe mode.
  9. Change your passwords in case they were compromised.
  10. Update your operating system, software and browser. These updates will patch security vulnerabilities to help protect your data.

If you are still noticing issues with your device, it may be time to bring in a professional.

Step 3:Report

Reporting any type of cybercrime, including malware, is imperative to help others avoid being scammed. As a society, the more people that report online scams and fraud, the more national reporting data that is collected, and the better chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease cybercrime.

Step 4:Recover

How to Avoid Future Malware Attacks

There are steps you can take to protect your devices from malware. Here are some tips:

  • Back up your data regularly. This is the most important thing you can do to protect your data. Store your backups offline, so they can’t be encrypted by ransomware.
  • Keep your software up to date. Install security updates for your operating system and applications as soon as they’re available.
  • Don’t open email attachments from unknown senders. Don’t click on links in email messages from unknown senders.
  • Don’t download software from untrustworthy websites. Only download software from websites you trust.
  • Use a security suite that includes anti-malware protection. A security suite can protect your computer from ransomware and other malware.

Take 5 Steps for Better Online Security

It’s important to strengthen your online security to help avoid all types of online scams. Take action to improve your digital posture by following these steps:

  1. Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA): Passwords are generally easy for scammers to crack, and even if you use strong passphrases, there’s still the possibility that a cybercriminal can obtain your passphrase in a data breach. Implementing MFA is a great way to maximize your security and ensure that you are the only one who can gain access to your accounts. MFA should be implemented on all accounts where it is available. Check your account’s security settings to see if it is something you can set up.
  2. Update Your Privacy Settings: Privacy settings allow you to control your personal information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, financial details, photos or videos, etc) and how that information is used. Review your privacy settings on all of your accounts including your social media accounts. Consider restricting who can see your friends list, contacts, photos and posts.
  3. Activate Automatic Updates: Automatic updates are a set of changes to an app, software or operating system that are automatically pushed by the developer to fix or improve it. Oftentimes, cybercriminals take advantage of security flaws to plant malicious software on your devices. By activating automatic updates, you will automatically patch security vulnerabilities to protect your data.
  4. Use a Password Manager or Create Strong Passphrases: A password manager is a software tool that securely stores all of your login credentials in one place, allowing you to create and manage strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. If you are unable to afford a password manager, use strong passphrases. A passphrase is a combination of random words or a sentence that is much longer and more complex than a typical password. Using a passphrase instead of a password makes it much harder for hackers to guess or brute-force their way into your accounts.
  5. Learn the Elements of a Phishing Attempt: Familiarize yourself with the elements of a phishing email. Phishing emails tend to include a sense of urgency and multiple grammar and spelling errors. If they are asking you to reveal personal information, be suspicious. If you get a strange email, try contacting the company another way to confirm they sent that email. If the email is suspicious, mark it as spam.

TestimonialHear from Other Victims

Without, I don't know if I would have been able to react as quickly to protect my personal information.
Mary - Indianapolis, IN