What is Malware?

Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent.

Spyware is software that sends your personal information to a third party without your knowledge or consent. Adware is software that displays advertisements on your computer - even when you are not browsing the Internet.

How Do I Know If I Have a Malware Problem?

You probably have a spyware problem if you see pop-up advertisements even when you are not on the Web, your browser does not work properly, you have a new toolbar that you did not install on your computer, your computer has slown down significantly or your computer crashes often.

How Can I Avoid Malware?

Spyware and adware are extremely difficult to prevent. Most people install spyware inadvertently when they are tricked into clicking on a link that installs it; for example, by clicking a cancel button to close a dialog box. Spyware or adware may also get installed when other software installed. That is why it is important to read all disclosures, including the privacy statement and license agreement, before installing any software. Spyware can also be installed with music and video downloads.

To avoid spyware, make sure you only download programs from Web sites you trust. Read all security warnings, license agreements and privacy statements. Never click Agree or OK to close a window; instead click the red X in the corner or the window or alt+F4 to close. Better yet, avoid pop-up windows altogether by using a pop-up blocker. Be careful with free music or
music-sharing programs
. Investigate free software by searching Google for the name of the program and the keywords adware or spyware.

How Can I Remove Malware?

Run an anti-spyware utility such as Trend Micro’s online House Call product, configure the settings in the AntiVirus software you have installed on your laptop, or download the free software Spybot Search & Destroy.

Always download the latest anti-spyware definitions before scanning. We recommend the following free anti-spyware products:


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500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Copyright © 2014, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved