Malicious software, more commonly known as malware, consists of viruses, worms, spyware, adware and other programs that are capable of collecting information without your consent and altering the normal way your digital device functions. Protective software can help minimize unauthorized activity on your computer, but the effects of malware can be divided into four general categories.
As an advertising-supported branch of malware, adware can automatically display pop-up advertisements when a user is online or offline. Once your computer is infected, some adware simply renders the unwanted ads while other programs actually monitor a user's site visits and can track information. If pop-up ads frequently appear while you are not accessing the Internet, this is likely the result of malware.
If infected by a virus or worm, your computer can become unstable. If your computer inexplicably crashes, spontaneously reboots, won't shut down, won't restart or is experiencing other repeated malfunctions, malware can be the cause of such turmoil.
Loss of Privacy
Some malware is designed to create a text log based on your key strokes, which can reveal email addresses and account passwords. These text logs can then be scanned by hackers and used to send email to your contacts. If you have an online account that has been compromised, you may have malware that enabled the process on your computer.
Identity & Financial Theft
Spyware infections can lead to the access of personal information and financial account details, which can then be used to commit identity theft and fraudulent crimes. You may be unaware your information has been leaked until you monitor your financial accounts and see unauthorized behavior.
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