Beware of malware | ACMA

Internet

27 November, 2014 05:02 PM

Internet

Beware of malware

By Peter Watts

Are you one of the 49 per cent of Australian internet users who don’t believe they could ever become a victim of malware? You should check out our new malware video, which explains how malware works and gives tips on how to protect your device online. We’ve released the video as part of today’s official launch of the Australian Internet Security Initiative (AISI) portal.

So, what is malware and why should I care?

Malware—short for malicious software—is any type of bad software (including viruses and spyware) that is installed on your computer or mobile device without your knowledge. Criminals use malware to access your computer so they can steal your personal information and commit fraud like identify theft.

Malware is a global issue—and in Australia alone, thousands of computers are infected.

How can I prevent my computer from becoming infected?

There are many things you can do to protect your computer or mobile device from malware. One of the most important steps is to install security software (including anti-virus software) on your computer and set it to update automatically. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘set and forget’, as criminals are constantly looking for ways to exploit weaknesses. Ensuring your security software is up-to-date makes it harder for them to attack your computer.

You should also set your operating system and web browser to update automatically, so you always receive the latest fixes and updates. Installing pop-up blockers also helps to reduce your risk.

Set strong passwords, and avoid clicking on links and opening attachments in emails unless you know what they are.

How do I know if my computer is infected with malware?

Even if you take steps to safeguard your computer against malware, it can still become compromised. Look out if your computer starts to:

  • run very slowly and drain its battery quickly
  • display unexpected errors or crashes
  • shut down or restart incorrectly or not at all
  • create new icons or toolbars without your permission.

All these things may point to malware.

Help! I think I have malware—what can I do?

If you suspect your computer has been compromised, follow these steps:

  • Stop any activities that require passwords or personal information, such as online banking or shopping. Change online passwords from another secure computer, such as your work PC.
  • Update your security software—make sure it’s from a reputable company—and run a system scan. Any files flagged as malware should be deleted and recommended fixes should be run.
  • If you’re still worried about malware, seek professional technical assistance from your computer manufacturer or internet service provider.

The malware video was originally developed by the Federal Trade Commission—a US consumer protection agency—and we’re grateful for their support in adapting it.

Here at the ACMA, we believe that prevention is crucial in winning the fight against malware. For more information about protecting yourself online, go to www.staysmartonline.gov.au.