Malware, short for “malicious software,” includes unwanted software that gets installed onto your device without you knowing. Malware can infect your computer, tablet, phone, and other mobile devices to steal your personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. Learn how to recognize, remove and avoid malware.
Malware can get onto your device when you open or download attachments, files, or untrustworthy websites. Look for unusual behavior from your phone, tablet, or computer. Here are some signs your device might have been infected with malware.
- Your device suddenly slows down, crashes, or displays repeated error messages
- Your device won’t shut down or restart
- You are unable to remove software
- You notice a lot of pop-ups, inappropriate ads, or ads that interfere with page content
- You see ads in places you typically don’t see them such as government websites
- You see new toolbars or icons in your browser or on your desktop
- Your device uses a new default search engine or displays new tabs or websites you didn’t open
- Your computer’s homepage keeps changing
- You notice emails that were not sent by you
- Your deceive runs out of battery life more quickly
Do it yourself:
- Stop shopping, banking, and doing other things online that involve usernames, passwords, or other sensitive information until you clear your device from malware.
- Check to see if you have security software on your device, if not, download it. You can find recommendations from independent review sites by doing research online.
- Make sure your software is up to date by checking the operating system, security software and apps. Turn on automatic updates so your software always stays up to date.
- Run a malware scan on your device in order to remove any identified malware. To recognize if the scan was effective, you may have to restart your device. Run the second time to make sure everything is clear. If no malware is identified, you’ve likely removed it.
- To avoid losing the data stored on your device, recover your operating system. If you need help figuring out how to do this, visit your device manufacturer’s website.
- Lastly, you’ll need to reinstall your operating system to ensure your infected device is free of malware. Keep in mind, if you have not previously backed up your data you’ll lose the data that was stored on your device.
To get help removing malware from your device, contact the manufacturer of your device. If it’s covered by a warranty, you may be able to get free tech support. When reaching out for help, remember to avoid tech support scammers. Learn how to avoid a tech support scammer.
- Legitimate tech companies won’t contact you by phone, email, or text message to tell you there is a problem with your device.
- Security pop-up warnings from real tech companies will never ask you to call a number.
After removing malware from your device there are some things you can do to avoid malware in the future.
- Read each screen when you install new software. If you don’t recognize a program, or are prompted to install bundled software, decline the additional program, or exit the installation process
- Get trustworthy software directly from the source
- Pay attention to your browser’s security warnings
- Instead of clicking on a link in an email or text message, type the URL of a trusted site directly into your browser
- Don’t click on pop-ups or ads about your computer’s performance
- Scan USB drives and other external devices before using them