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Malware is any software that’s been designed to infect devices and steal or destroy data. It can be delivered in a variety of ways including via email, instant messaging, and social media. Cybercriminals use malware to gain access to sensitive information, disrupt business operations, and collect revenue. The most common malware types include ransomware, worms, bots, adware, and spyware.

Signs of malware typically include slowdowns and uncharacteristic behavior that may indicate a device has been infected. Some malware can be difficult to detect, however, and can have a range of effects on the device and its users. For example, ransomware encrypts files and demands payment for their return; adware displays (often malicious) ads to end users, which can irritate and drain resources; and spyware collects personal information that’s then sent to a threat actor.

Some malware can be spotted using activity monitor, which shows background processes and apps that are running on the device. Check the CPU tab and look for processes that consume a lot of CPU power. If you find one, research the process online to see if it’s known to be malware or a legitimate app.

Other signs of malware include suspicious messages and prompts for personal information, which can be used to commit identity theft or fraud. For instance, if you’re prompted to download a ‘security’ program that warns you of potential threats, it’s likely scamware or malware. Malware can also infiltrate points-of-sale (PoS) systems to collect credit card numbers, PINs, and transaction details. A notable example is the Stuxnet worm, which was developed by US and Israeli officials as a cyberweapon to infiltrate Iranian nuclear facilities and cause damage.