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Use an anti-malware application and keep it updated

Once you've made sure your computer's defenses are open, it is time to take action against any malicious attacks that might slip through.

Viruses or worms can take advantage previously unknown (or 'zero-day') security vulnerabilities and set up a shop on your computer to use it as a launch pad for attacks on other systems. This type of software is known as “malware” and is often created for financial reasons. A computer can become infected with malware when an infected application is downloaded and executed, either by an unsuspecting user, a compromised website, or a network worm.

Malware authors and distributors can monetize an infection by:

  • Get paid for any advertisements the program can display or emails the program can send from the infected desktop.
  • Theft of private information such as credit card numbers from infected computers and resale to third parties.
  • Collect sufficient information from a computer to identify the computer user and make purchases.
  • Encrypt the contents of the drive and return your own data to you.

Anti-malware scanner tips

  • While scanning a computer with an anti-malware application is a good measure, it doesn't have to be done every day.
  • The real-time protection functionality is much more directly helpful.
  • This feature attempts to stop malware and quarantine it while it is running.
  • Most viruses and malware can be prevented by anti-malware software.
  • Remember that an anti-malware application cannot defeat a virus or spyware that it does not know about. So it is very important that it is kept up to date.

Columbia University acquired a Malwarebytes site license to ensure that anti-malware software is available to all users within the university.

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