What is malware?

Short for "malicious software," malware is hostile or intrusive software used by hackers to gain access to and retrieve sensitive information from personal computer, phones, and mobile devices, eavesdrop on your activity, or install other malware. They are often self-replicating and are spread through trapped websites, social networking, email, and more. Malware threats include:

  • Trojan horses: programs in which malicious code is contained inside an seemingly harmless program
  • Worms: replicating programs that use a computer network to spread to other computers without attaching to an existing program
  • Viruses: replicating programs that use other computer programs, data files, or the boot sector of the hard drive to spread to other computers
  • Ransomware: malware which restricts access to the infected computer system and demands a ransom paid in order for the restriction to be removed
  • Rootkits: malicious software designed to prevent detection of the existence of programs and provide the hacker with continued privileged access to a computer
  • Keyloggers: recording (or logging) the keys struck on a keyboard
  • Spyware: software that gathers and communicates information about the user without their knowledge or consent. It can log keystrokes, steal files, and monitor activity on the computer. They are often hidden inside other software you chose to install, but can also come from downloads, email attachments, or browsing infected web pages.
  • Adware: malicious software that presents unsolicited ads to the user


Beware of Fake Security Software

Software that appears to be antivirus or security software will "detect" thousands of viruses. It will then state that the only way to get rid of the detected threats is to purchase the "full license" or "full version." Some are tricks to get money, while others are tricks to get you to install more malware unwillingly.

Protect yourself from fake security software:

  • Make sure your firewall is on
  • Keep your software and operating system up to date
  • Don't click on ads in pop-up windows


Protect Yourself From Malware

  • Only open links or attachments in emails that you are expecting
  • Only download and install software from websites you know and trust
  • Use a pop-up blocker and don't click on any links within pop-ups
  • Make sure to use antivirus and antispyware software and check that your firewall is enabled
  • Scan all files, flash drives, etc. before adding them to your computer
  • Never leave your computer unattended or unlocked, even for a short period of time

Warning Signs

Your computer may be infected with malware if it:

  • Runs significantly slower than normal, crashes, or displays repeated error messages
  • Won't shut down or restart
  • Displays a large number of pop-ups
  • Displays web pages you have never visited or sends emails you did not write

Other signs of malware infection include:

  • New and unintentional toolbars
  • New and unintentional icons on your desktop
  • Sudden or repeated changes in your internet homepage
  • Laptop battery drains battery more quickly than expected


If you think your device has been infected with malware, contact:

Support for Students

Call the Technology HelpLine: 330-672-HELP (4357)
Visit a TechHelp location or submit a ticket

Support for Faculty/Staff

Contact your local support provider