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Malware is the broad term used for viruses, worms, trojans and other harmful computer software hackers use to damage data and systems. From simple experiments in form to sophisticated malware-as-a-service platforms, it covers an enormous spectrum in both function and application.

For example, ransomware holds a victim’s files or data hostage until the victim pays a ransom to get them back; backdoor malware gives attackers root or privileged access to an infected system; and adware secretly tracks browsing and download history to deliver targeted ads. The diversity of malware is its greatest strength and the core of the threat it poses to businesses.

New threats emerge regularly, ranging from evasion techniques to snooping and tracking technologies. For instance, time delays, polymorphism (the ability to change the underlying code) and anti-sandboxing are ways to avoid detection by signature-based antivirus solutions. And mobile devices can be more tempting targets for attack, because they carry more private data than desktop computers: financial information, travel locations and GPS tracking, shopping and browsing histories, captured keystrokes and even images from the device’s camera.

If you suspect your device may be infected, open Activity Monitor and look for applications that consume the most resources but aren’t active. Uninstall any suspicious apps and then run a full system scan to clean any traces from your computer. If a reinstall is required, consult your device manufacturer’s website for instructions on how to properly wipe and reinstall the operating system.