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Malware is a blanket term for viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, botnets and other malicious software threat actors use to infect computer systems and networks to steal information, cause disruption and profit from the attack. Ransomware is one of the most popular and profitable malware attacks. It encrypts data and systems and demands hard-to-trace cryptocurrency payments to restore access. Ransomware attacks are on the rise with businesses, hospitals and retail stores becoming victimized in disproportionately larger numbers than consumers.

The first modern virus, Elk Cloner, began infecting Apple II floppy disks in 1982 and spread by using a flaw in the system’s automount program. The malware hid itself inside the disk and infected other floppies attached to the same system.

Trojans, or “Trojan horses,” represent a particularly dangerous class of malware that presents itself as something useful in order to trick you into enabling it. Once installed on a machine, a Trojan can give attackers unauthorized access to system files and send data or malware to other machines via email or USB drives.

If you think your device might be infected with malware, you should take immediate action to clean the device, factory reset if necessary and back it up to iCloud or iTunes. You should also scan the app store for new apps to make sure you aren’t installing any malware. If you use an iOS device, Apple vets all applications sold in the App Store, so your device is less likely to be compromised with malware than Android devices. However, an unpatched bug or a jailbroken device could leave your iOS device vulnerable to malware.