Viruses, worms, spyware and Trojan Horses. Meet the malware family.
In a February 2012 study by Javelin Strategy & Research, malware is defined as “Malicious software designed to access a computer or operating system without the knowledge or consent of the user. Some examples of malware are computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, malicious adware, and rootkits. Malware is damaging code or programming that gathers information without permission.”1
And according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a non-profit global industry and law enforcement organization, generic data-stealing malware comprised almost half of all malware detected in the first half of 2011.2
Malware can gain access to your computer through an email attachment or a link to an infected or counterfeit website. It can then transmit personal information you may have stored, including banking, tax returns, health forms, business records and even information about your spouse and children.
Taking these actions can help.
You can use technology and common sense to help combat malware. Installing firewalls, antivirus software, continually updating applications and operating system software can help.
Be vigilant about opening attachments or clicking on links from unknown or unverified senders. You should also use your privacy controls on social network sites, and limit the amount of personal information you have on them. Taking these steps can assist in reducing the likelihood of being a victim of identity theft from malware.
1 Javelin Strategy & Research. “2012 Identity Fraud Survey Report.” 2/12.
2 Anti-Phishing Working Group, Phishing Activity Trends Report, January – June 2011.
† Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book For
January – December 2011.” February 2012.
† Javelin Strategy & Research. "2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming
the New Fraud Frontier." February 2012.