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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Beware the malware

By Kirstin Davis BBB MARKETPLACE DIRECTOR

Malicious software, also known as malware, is software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems. Malware can range from annoying pop-up ads to debilitation of your computer and can be in the form of viruses, spyware or other unwanted software. Scammers can use malware to steal personal information, send spam and commit fraud.

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest wants you to know how to avoid having your computer infected with malware, how to detect it and what to do if malware does make its way onto your computer.

Avoid malware: The Federal Trade Commission suggests installing and updating security software and using a firewall. Be sure to adjust settings to automatically update the software to keep up with the most current security measures. Keep your browser security settings and look for security warnings. Avoid clicking on links in an email unless you know it can be trusted. Do not respond to pop-up or banner ads about your computer’s performance. Download popular software directly from the source and read each screen carefully. If there is an offer to download a “bundled” software, it’s best to decline the offer and exit the installation process immediately.

Detecting malware: Hopefully, prevention keeps your computer clean. However, there are signs to look for if you are wondering if you have malware. Warning signs include a sudden change in the speed of your computer’s processing. It could include your computer shutting down, bringing up error messages or the inability to shut down or restart. If you suddenly are getting a barrage of ads, inappropriate content or the inability to access content, these are signs you may have malware on your computer.

Removing malware: If your computer has been attacked by malware, there are some steps you should take. Stop all online banking, shopping or other activities that involve personal information from the device. Update security software and check your browser for the tool to remove the malware or reset it to original settings. Check to see if your manufacturer warranty provides technical support or look for the contact number of the software information or receipt. Be a hero and report it to the FTC.

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