Viruses and malware
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Viruses and malware | Help & Support | O2
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What are viruses and malware?
Malware is short for malicious software. It can damage or delete your files, copy your passwords, or take over your computer to send illegal videos or spam emails.
There are several types of malware, including viruses, spyware, worms and Trojans.
Viruses can delete or corrupt your files, steal passwords, or allow to take over your computer.
- Protect yourself from viruses
To minimise the risk of getting a virus:
- don't open emails from people you don't know
- don't open files unless you know exactly what they are
- keep your operating system up to date
- keep your anti-virus software up to date and scan weekly
- install software like McAfee Security that identifies risky websites
- back up all your important files.
Most malware is spread by people installing it accidentally. Sometimes, malware can install itself on a machine. To prevent this:
- Install updates – all operating systems release regular patches designed to fix bugs and close security holes
- Install anti-virus software – scan your computer regularly and make sure the software's virus definitions are up to date
- Scan CDs, DVDs, memory sticks and external hard drives before using their programs or files
- Use Microsoft Office's macro protection – some malware disguises itself as Word or Excel macros
- Enable pop-up window blockers
- Delete suspicious emails – don't read them or reply.
Be wary of 'free' software
Watch out for software promoted as 'free' – before you download, make sure the website is trustworthy. It's much safer to go directly to the software provider's site and download from there.
Look out for fake emails and attachments
If one of your contacts has a virus on their computer, you might get an email from them containing a virus. Be on the lookout for suspicious subject lines or anything odd-sounding in the email itself. When in doubt, check with your friend to see if they actually sent it.
- Dealing with viruses
To check whether you have a virus, scan your computer with up-to-date anti-virus software.
If you find a virus, warn your contacts not to open any unusual emails they receive from you. After you delete a virus, always change the passwords to your online accounts.
Viruses on your mobile
The risk of getting a virus on your mobile is much lower than on your computer, but some operating systems, like Android, are still vulnerable.
There are several free apps you can download from the Google Play store to keep your Android mobile virus-free, including Avast!, Lookout and TrustGo.
- 'FluBot scam'
FluBot is a text message scam that is part of a large-scale smishing attack. Currently, it only affects Android devices and is downloaded under the guise of a message with a link to a tracking app or to retrieve a voicemail. The messages can appear to be from a delivery service like DHL, or other companies like Argos and Amazon.
If you click the link in the message, the malware may automatically download to your device. If the app is installed, the malware can take over your device, allowing more infected text messages to be sent to your contacts without your knowledge. The fraudster could also gain access to your messages and online banking details.
- More help sources
If you're not sure about any techy terms, check out our jargon buster