Millions of computers are vulnerable to computer malware threats which damage computers and steal confidential information. One such computer threat which made millions of websites vulnerable and allowed criminals to steal personal information of customers who visited their trusted business websites was Heartbleed. Regardless of the names we give to computer malware, we have to stay on top of these threats to quickly fix the vulnerability through technical means and customer education.
Malware is short for "malicious software" which includes viruses and spyware that get installed on a computer or mobile device without authorization or knowledge. Criminals use malware to steal personal information and commit fraud. For example, they may use malware to steal the login information for your online accounts or to hijack your computer and use it to send spams. An infected computer can lead to serious problems, like identity theft. As mentioned, one such malware bug called Heartbleed was found in some versions of OpenSSL which is widely used for web security to steal personal information of website visitors like user name and password.
While technical staff work hard to protect computers, there are many things that consumers can do to protect themselves and their businesses which are listed below:
1. Verify the security of a website before using the website. There are security software tools that consumers can use to see of a website is affected by the latest threats.
2. Change passwords regularly,
3. Install security software from a reliable company and set it to update automatically,
4. Run a system scan with the updated software and delete files flaged as malware,
5. Download software only from websites you know and trust. Free stuff may sound appealing, but free downloads can hide malware,
6. Set your operating system and your web browser to update automatically,
7. Don't buy security software in response to unexpected calls or messages, especially if they say they scanned your computer and found malware. Scammers send messages like these to trick you into buying worthless software, or worse, downloading malware,
8. Use a pop up blocker, and don't click on links and popups. Don't click on links or open attachments in emails unless you know what they are, even if the emails seem to be from friends or family,
9. Make sure your web browser's security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads. For example, use at least the medium security setting,
10. Even if you take precautions, malware can find its way onto your computer. So be on the lookout for the following signs:
a) your computer runs slowly,
b) battery is drained quickly,
c) unexpected errors or crashes occur often,
d) the computer won't shutdown or restart,
e) there are a lot of popups,
f) you are guided to web pages you didn't visit,
g) your home page setting is changed, or
h) new icons or toolbars are created without your permission.
If you suspect computer malware threats, stop entering passwords or personal info whether shopping or banking online. Use a different computer, maybe one at work or at your local library, to change your passwords.
If you can't fix the problem on your own, get help from a professional. Your computer manufacturer or internet service provider may offer free tech support. If not, contact a company or retail store that provides tech support.
Keep in mind, the most important things you can do to thwart computer malware threats are to keep your computer software up to date, and stay up to date regarding latest threats and affected websites. You can find more articles on computer malware threats in this section.
Watch the video below for some great information: