Avoiding Malware

Malware is the term security experts use to describe all malicious computer code. It can include spyware, adware, and browser hijackers in addition to viruses. Anti-virus software is a valuable tool for protecting your computer agains viruses, but it often misses other malware. Spyware and Adware are market-driven parasites. They can get on your computer without your knowledge. For instance, if you download “free” software it may come bundled with tracking software (spyware) that records your keystrokes and reports the data back to advertisers. Other malware products display advertising popups (adware) based on data collected. 

When malware is on your computer, it is continuously “calling home” by reporting back to the advertisers over your Internet connection, which can significantly slow down the performance of your computer. Browser hijackers can redirect your Internet start page or change the default search service you have set. These files can automatically install when you visit a web site or may ask for permission in a confusing way to try to trick you into consenting.

The best way to prevent malware from getting onto your computer is to be careful about what you download to your computer. Read popup windows carefully before clicking “yes” or “no.” Often the popups are written in such a way that clicking “no” will actually allow the software to be loaded on your machine. Do not intentionally download programs such as Gator, Gain, Comet Cursor, Xupiter or HotBar, to name a few. You should also avoid downloading any coupon programs, filesharing programs or additional search bars if you want to avoid popups and keep your computer running smooth.

If you find your computer bogged down with malware, contact the 24×7 helpdesk:
On-campus @ extension 2721 | Locally @ 210-829-2721 | Toll-free @ 1-866-614-5043 | helpdesk@uiwtx.edu

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