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Have you got malware on your system?

12 January 2018

Malicious software (malware) is one of the most common threats you face when you interact online and it’s only one wrong click away. 

Malware spreads far and wide, and invites you to download it through clever emails, pop-ups or links. Once it’s on your system, malware can hunt for your personal details and banking credentials, lock up your data and demand a ransom or allow unauthorised access to your system.

Unfortunately, it’s also very clever at disguise. Hackers use anything they can to make malware look as if it’s legitimate – from Flash update pop-ups, to scam emails from well-known companies and messages from your social media contacts.

Just one click can expose your system to malware.

How to protect yourself

  • The best way to reduce the impact of malware is to create regular backups of your important files and ensure your software is up-to-date.
  • Run virus scans regularly using anti-virus software.
  • Only download files and applications from websites that you trust, such as from official app stores or legitimate organisations such as your bank.
  • Pause and think carefully before clicking on links in emails, messages or on social networking sites. Don’t click on links in messages if you don’t know the sender or if the message is unexpected.
  • Before you click on a link, hover over it to see the actual web address it will take you to (usually shown at the bottom of the browser window). To avoid clicking on a link, navigate to the website yourself through a keyword search.
  • Expand shortened URLs to check if they are safe by using an ‘expand link’ facility to get the original URL. Look for a short URL expander that is recommended by your anti-virus software or a reputable software company.

Do you have malware on your system?

  • If you haven’t already, download a reputable anti-virus application (on all your devices).
  • Run a virus scan and remove any identified files.
  • Reset the passwords on all important accounts (and any accounts that use duplicate credentials).
  • Keep an eye on your bank statements for suspicious transactions and be highly suspicious of unsolicited emails and social media contacts.

Read more about using safe online behaviour.