Malware is any software created to perform malicious acts. Malware includes adware, spyware, grayware, phishing, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and rootkits. Malware is usually installed on a computer without the knowledge of the user. These programs open extra windows on the computer or change the computer configuration. Malware is capable of modifying web browsers to open to specific web pages that are not the desired web page. This is known as browser redirection. Malware can also collect information stored on the computer without the user’s consent.


Adware is a software program that displays advertising on your computer. Adware is usually distributed with downloaded software. Most often, adware is displayed in a pop-up window. Adware pop-up windows are sometimes difficult to control and open new windows faster than users can close them.


Spyware is similar to adware. It is distributed without user intervention or knowledge. After spyware is installed and run, it monitors activity on the computer. The spyware then sends this information to the individual or organization responsible for launching the spyware.


Grayware is similar to adware. Grayware may be malicious and is sometimes installed with the user’s consent. For example, a free software program may require the installation of a toolbar that displays advertising or tracks a user’s website history.


Phishing is where the attacker pretends to represent a legitimate outside organization, such as a bank. A potential victim is contacted via email, telephone, or text message. The attacker might ask for verification of information, such as a password or username, to possibly prevent some terrible consequence from occurring.

Many malware attacks are phishing attacks that try to persuade the reader to unknowingly provide attackers with access to personal information. As you fill out an online form, the data is sent to the attacker. Malware can be removed using virus, spyware, or adware removal tools.

NOTE: There is rarely a need to provide sensitive personal or financial information online. Legitimate businesses will not ask for sensitive information through email. Be suspicious. When in doubt, make contact by mail or phone to ensure the validity of the request.