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What is Malware?

Malware is short for malicious software. It is software that is installed on your computer without you realising and can be used by criminals to gather personal, financial or security information or to carry out unauthorised actions on your computer. There are many different types of malware, including trojans, spyware, key-loggers, viruses and worms.

Malware can be downloaded on to your computer when you click on a link or open an attachment in a spam or phishing email or visit an untrustworthy website. It can also be downloaded as a hidden attachment when you download legitimate software.

A common type of malware which is used in financial fraud involves the download of malicious software on to your computer which logs the letters and numbers that you type. This is then used to track personal, financial and security information such as your online banking login details or your card details when you are shopping online. With these details the criminal, can then pretend to be you and carry out funds transfers or online purchases with your information.

Other types of malware, trick you into entering your login details into a fraudulent website, by creating a bogus pop-up webpage which appears in front of the login screen on a genuine online banking website. Some malware can alter webpages, for example, by adding extra fields into an online banking website thereby tricking you into giving the fraudster personal information.

How to protect your PC from Malware attack:

  • Install a reliable anti-virus and browser security software. Ensure it has the latest updates and that it scans your computer regularly to check for malware
  • Check that you have the latest operating system and web browser security updates installed
  • Activate a firewall
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails that encourage you to click on links, open attachments or download executable (.exe) or zip (.zip) files
  • Be security conscious when surfing and downloading
  • Only download from sites you trust
  • Read security information before you download software
  • Be wary of websites that launch a program unexpectedly or that create a lot of activity on your internet connection as it downloads computer files
  • Any unsolicited requests for bank account information which you receive through pop-up windows should be considered fraudulent and reported immediately

If you suspect that your computer may have been infected with malware and you have used any online banking services, contact your bank immediately.