Protect Your Computer from Malware

Protect Your Computer from Malware

Malware is short for “malicious software.” It includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer or mobile device without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online activity. Learn more about how to avoid, detect, and get rid of malware.

Transcript:

Would it surprise you to learn that millions of computers in the US are infected with malware? That’s a lot of computers. So what’s malware, and why should you care?

Malware, short for malicious software, includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer or mobile device without you knowing it. 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 spam. An infected computer can lead to serious problems, like identity theft.

The good news, there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself and your computer. One of the most important steps you can take, install security software from a reliable company and set it to update automatically. The bad guys constantly develop new ways to attack your computer, so your software must be up to date to work.

Set your operating system and your web browser to update automatically too. If you’re not sure how, use the help function and search for automatic updates. 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.

What else can you do? 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.

Download software only from websites you know and trust. Free stuff may sound appealing, but free downloads can hide malware. Make sure your web browser’s security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads. For example, use at least the medium security setting.

Even if you take precautions, malware can find its way onto your computer. So be on the lookout for these signs. Your computer runs slowly, drains its battery quickly, displays unexpected errors or crashes, it won’t shutdown or restart, it serves a lot of popups, takes you to web pages you didn’t visit, changes your home page, or creates new icons or toolbars without your permission.

If you suspect malware, stop doing things that require passwords or personal info, such as online shopping or banking. Use a different computer, maybe one at work or at your local library, to change your passwords. Update your security software and run a system scan. Delete files it flags as malware.

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 thing you can do to prevent malware is to keep your computer software up to date. And remember, it’s easy to find trusted information about computer security. Just visit onguardonline.gov, the federal government site to help you stay safe, secure, and responsible online.

The information provided is from third parties not affiliated in any way with American Financial Network, Inc. This third party content is for general informational purposes only, and American Financial Network, Inc. makes no express or implied warranties, promises, or representations as to the nature, standard, accuracy or otherwise of the information provided, nor to the suitability of the information to your particular circumstances. AFN is not a tax or financial advisor, and individual tax circumstances may vary. Please consult a licensed tax professional and appropriate government agencies to determine tax consequences of home ownership.

Five Ways to Help Protect Your Identity

Five Ways to Help Protect Your Identity

Follow these routine steps to help protect personal information and reduce your risk of identity theft.

Transcript:

Identity theft happens. It’s an unfortunate fact of modern life. But there are certain steps you can take to help keep your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

Every day, you do things to protect what’s most important to you. And you know what? You do them almost automatically. Routine things like looking both ways before you cross, brushing your teeth, and buckling your seat belt.

Another routine to get into is keeping tabs on your identity and personal information. Here are five easy ways you can do it.

  1. Read your credit card and bank statements carefully and often.
  2. Know your payment due dates. If a bill doesn’t show up when you expect it, look into it.
  3. Read the statements from your health insurance plan. Make sure the claims paid match the care you got.
  4. Shred any documents with personal and financial information.
  5. Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. It’s easy, and it’s free.

And before you know it, protecting your personal information can be as routine as locking your doors at night.

For more tips and tools on dealing with identity theft, visit ftc.gov/idtheft.

The information provided is from third parties not affiliated in any way with American Financial Network, Inc. This third party content is for general informational purposes only, and American Financial Network, Inc. makes no express or implied warranties, promises, or representations as to the nature, standard, accuracy or otherwise of the information provided, nor to the suitability of the information to your particular circumstances. AFN is not a tax or financial advisor, and individual tax circumstances may vary. Please consult a licensed tax professional and appropriate government agencies to determine tax consequences of home ownership.