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Why is malware bad?

Malware is any kind of bad (malicious) software. There are different types of malware, and it is a serious threat.

Malware can steal your passwords or other personal information. It may also let a hacker take control of your computer, so they can pretend to be you online or use your computer to commit a crime. Malware will probably slow your computer down, and may corrupt, destroy or delete your files. Malware can also forward itself from your computer to other computers without your knowing about it.

How can malware get onto my computer?

Malware gets onto a computer if the user accidentally downloads an infected file by viewing a corrupted site (a drive-by download) or clicks a bad web link in an email, on a website, or on a social networking site.

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a type of malware that can wreck a computer and all the files you have stored on it — photos, videos, games, music, and even your school work!

How can a virus affect my computer?

A computer virus can be dropped from an email or spread by an infected email attachment, bad download, CD or DVD, or USB (flash) drive. That's why you should scan everything you load onto your computer.

How can I avoid a computer virus if I use email?

Don't open emails or attachments, or click links in emails, if you don't know the sender and are not expecting the email. This includes emails that have been forwarded to you.

How can I avoid a computer virus if I use file-sharing?

Always take extra care if you use file-sharing (P2P) programs, or when you share files with friends.

What is a firewall for?

A firewall is a barrier to control information coming to and leaving your computer. Make sure your computer has a good firewall, and make sure it's enabled all the time.

What is spyware?

As the name suggests, spyware is an intelligence-gathering tool used to spy on people, and secretly collect personal information like banking and credit card details or other private information. Spyware is usually installed on a computer by accident or by the user getting tricked.

What is adware?

Adware delivers advertisements to your computer, or other content that's pushing you to buy goods or services. Adware can be installed accidentally and without you knowing about it, when you download free software.

What's the problem with popups?

Most popups are just advertising, but some are scams or fake ads designed to trick you. Even the harmless popups can become really irritating.

To get rid of a popup safely, click the [X] in the window to close. Don't click the links on a popup.

Use the popup blocking settings of your web browser. Or try a different web browser. And be sure to keep your browser software up-to-date.

You need to remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. It's probably a scam.

What is a Trojan?

A 'Trojan' is a bad code which is hidden in a computer program or other computer file which may appear to be useful, interesting, or at the very least harmless to you when using your computer. When this program or file is run, the code is also triggered, which sets up or installs the malicious trojan horse program. If a Trojan gets onto your computer, it could give cyber-criminals backdoor access to your computer, to steal your personal data or use your computer to commit a crime.

How will I know if my computer has been infected?

Install and use anti-malware software to scan for spyware, adware and other malware. You should remember to scan any files that come into your computer i.e. files that come by email, that are downloaded or that are copied from USB, DVD or CD-ROM. And keep your security software up-to-date.

Most malware will slow your computer down, and it may corrupt, destroy or delete your files. However you won't always know until damage is done, and that's why it's important to scan regularly.

How can I stop my computer from getting infected?

Never open files that come from people you don't know. And take care with files you download—you can't know what they really contain.

Install and use anti-virus software — use it to scan everything you download onto your computer. Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, and make sure your anti-virus software is always turned on and set to 'scan'.

Check for security updates regularly for all your software, including for your browsers, email clients and media plug-ins.

Make sure your computer has a good firewall, and make sure it's enabled (turned on) all the time. A firewall is a barrier to control information coming to and leaving your computer. Set your firewall to prompt you—for example, 'do you want to allow this inbound or outgoing connection'?

Why should I back up my data?

Back up all your data regularly, and store your back-up files in a different place. This way, if the worst happens, you won't have lost everything.

Where else can I get help?

It's a really good idea to install the cybersafety Help Button on your computer at home or school.

The Help Button is free, and it's easy to download (just check first with your parents or teacher). The button icon will sit on your desktop or you can place it on the taskbar. Then, you can just double click it if ever you need help or advice about something that's happened online, or you want to report something you've seen that's gross.

You can use the Help Button to find out more about how to report online threats including cyberbullying, nasty or gross content or people behaving badly on social or game sites, or online scams.

Download the Cybersafety Help button

Where can I find out more about malware?

You can find out more about malware if you click on this link: