Updated: 11/12/2023 by Computer Hope
Insect on a button representing malware.

Malware is malicious software developed to change your settings, delete software, cause errors, watch browsing habits, or open a computer to attacks. Malware can also cause harm by potentially disabling or disrupting computers, which could affect humans' health and welfare. It uses deceptive and unethical tactics to install itself on your computer without your consent. For instance, you may visit a website and receive an unrequested download, and mistakenly run this software on your computer. It may also use vulnerabilities in your operating system or web browser to install itself without requiring you to manually run the software.

Malware is commonly found on websites that engage in illegal or questionably legal activities, such as downloading copyrighted videos, music, or software for free. Many of these sites may offer services for free, drawing people in to use their services or download their applications. Those services or applications are often infected with malware, which then infects your computer.


Malware may also be called badware, obnoxiousware, parasite, parasiteware.

Protecting a computer from malware

Make sure to avoid websites that offer illegal or questionable services, as these may use deceptive practices to infect you with malware.

Ensure your computer uses antivirus software, such as Microsoft Defender.

If you think your computer may be infected with malware, use anti-malware software such as Malwarebytes to scan your computer for known malware. Most malware can be automatically removed or quarantined if detected.

Computer crime, Computer portmanteaus, Crapware, Dialer, Hijack, Malicious, Malvertising, Scareware, Security terms, Software terms, Spyware, Threat, Ware