Read Microsoft's guide: How to recognize phishing email messages, links, or phone calls
Our post about the most prevalent malware of 2013/2014: Avoid These CryptoLocker Email Subjects
- Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening attachments — even in emails that seem to be from friends or family — can install malware on your computer.
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust. Downloading free games, file-sharing programs, and customized toolbars may sound appealing, but free software can come with malware.
- New research shows rise in "deceptive downloads" - legitimate downloadable programs (usually free) that cybercriminals bundle with malicious items.
- Minimize "drive-by" downloads. Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads. For Internet Explorer, for example, use the "medium" setting at a minimum.
- Use a pop-up blocker and don't click on any links within pop-ups. If you do, you may install malware on your computer. Close pop-up windows by clicking on the "X" in the title bar.
- Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware. That's a tactic scammers use to spread malware.
Signs your PC is infectedMonitor your computer for unusual behavior. Your computer may be infected with malware if it:
- slows down, crashes, or displays repeated error messages
- won't shut down or restart
- serves up a barrage of pop-ups
- displays web pages you didn't intend to visit, or sends emails you didn't write
- new and unexpected toolbars
- new and unexpected icons in your shortcuts or on your desktop
- sudden or repeated changing of your browser's home page
- your laptop battery draining more quickly than it should