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Malware and computer viruses

What it is

Software that’s been made by someone so that your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. In some cases it also collects information or data saved on your device, and passes it on.

It’s also known as ransomware, viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, scareware and crimeware.

Protect yourself

  • Make sure your computer has a firewall and reputable anti-virus software. Without these, your computer has no defence to block infections. Learn how to protect your PC or Mac.
  • Take care downloading files. If you don’t know someone who’s sent you an email with an attachment, or you’re not sure about a website offering a file to download, don’t do it out of curiosity.
  • Browse safely on the web. Get to know the risks and use the same level of caution as you would in the real world; don’t automatically trust something unfamiliar.

Spot the signs

  • You’re being offered or told to download something from a website that you haven’t visited before and doesn’t look legitimate, or from a stranger who’s sent you an email.
  • Your internet connection or the computer’s general performance suddenly becomes very slow, you can’t access files or programs, or you’re unable to log in at all.
  • There are signs other people have accessed password-protected accounts, or your bank statements shows things you’ve bought or withdrawals you can’t remember making.

How it happens

There are many different types of malware or computer viruses that do different things. A lot of infections are designed to either steal personal information you’ve stored on your computer and pass it back to the virus creator so they can steal your identity.

If you’ve saved online banking information, they could use it to log in themselves and empty your account. Alternatively they may trick you into visiting a fake banking website to steal your details.

In some cases, ransomware is designed to deny you access to your files unless you pay a fee.

Malware gets on to your computer by adding a file from somewhere like an external hard drive, or more commonly by downloading a file when you’re connected to the internet. You may not know your computer has a virus straight away; it can carry out what it’s programmed to do without any visible signs.

The virus may use spyware, which tracks your browsing history to gather information about your online shopping and banking, or keylogging, which can detect the exact letters or numbers you type on your device’s keyboard, stealing usernames and passwords as well as debit or credit card numbers.

Some malware, called scareware, poses as a genuine anti-virus software download, or will tell you to install an urgent-sounding update to keep a virus off your computer.

How to report it

If Fraud has been committed report it to Action Fraud. For more advice and to raise any concerns, contact the Office of the Public Guardian.

Source - Action Fraud

Date Published: Jul 21, 2018

Types of fraud

A-Z of fraud

To help understand which fraud you've been affected by, we've categorised them into an alphabetical list.

What is fraud and cyber crime?

Fraud is when trickery is used to gain a dishonest advantage, which is often financial, over another person.

Advance fee fraud

Advance fee fraud is when fraudsters target victims to make advance or upfront payments for goods, services and/or financial gains that do not materialise.

Corporate fraud

Corporate fraud can be any fraud committed against a business.

Individual fraud

Individual fraud could be any fraud that targets a person directly. Individual frauds can differ from frauds affecting businesses and other organisations.

Online fraud

Some fraudsters rely on the internet to commit their crimes. Learn about some different types of internet frauds that and how to protect yourself and get safe online.

Identity fraud and identity theft

Identity theft is when your personal details are stolen and identity fraud is when those details are used to commit fraud.
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