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Malware is software that enters your device without your consent and causes disruption, leaks information, or steals data. Cybercriminals use malware to extort money, steal valuable assets like bitcoins, or gain access to sensitive systems and devices. Malware comes in many forms, and the threats continue to grow more complex.

The first examples of malware were viruses and worms, which spread from one computer to another by attaching themselves to existing programs or files. Viruses usually go unnoticed until they start taking up system resources, and they can damage or erase files. Worms, which replicate on their own and bind to other programs, can be more dangerous because they can spread very quickly.

Typically, hackers download and install malware when unsuspecting users inadvertently click a malicious link in an email or visit an unsafe website. Hackers also embed malware in peer-to-peer file-sharing services or free software download bundles, and they use text messages to infect mobile devices.

You notice your device running slower than usual. As malware takes up processing power, less is available for other tasks, including web browsing and app downloads. You see a shortage of available storage space on your device. Some types of malware download and install additional files, which eat up storage.

Using the right security measures and following best practices can help you protect your devices and information. In addition, working with trusted partners to detect and respond to malware threats can significantly reduce the impact of an attack.