How to outwit malware on your computers

Spyware won’t necessarily ask you for a ransom, but it will monitor your activity and log your data without your knowledge.

In addition, these malicious programs or informers can do anything from hijacking your webcam’s video connection to recording your keystrokes. From there, they can also gather enough of your personal information to steal your identity, hijack your accounts, or expose your digital life.

But with a little discipline, a watchful eye, and a few dollars a year, you can protect yourself from spyware.

Run your system and software updates

Let’s start with good news, even as spyware continues to get smarter and more sophisticated, so do web browsers and operating systems with the integration of more security tools. Still, and it’s free, you should always keep your system, programs, and security tools up-to-date with the latest patches released by their vendors.

Secure your system with antivirus software

Along with system updates, solid antivirus software for Windows and macOS will protect you from a variety of malware, keyloggers, and other webcam hacks.

Before choosing antivirus software, count the number of devices you want to protect. In addition to your computers, there are certainly also tablets and smartphones in the household.

To cover them, there are plans in the market that cover all types of devices; Bitdefender, McAfee, Norton, Avira, Avast are just a short list of antivirus vendors. Visit for independent reviews. By looking around, you can reduce annual costs by subscribing for more than a year.

About macOS protection

Despite the qualities of the macOS system, experts recommend strengthening its defenses by adding an antivirus package. There are several good reasons for this. First, Apple’s approach to established malware might be appropriate if you update it as soon as it’s released, but might not respond quickly enough to new threats. Second, you get broader coverage against malware. Third, macOS is not immune to bugs. For more details on the antiviral defenses, see the note

at the end of the text.

On the system side of Windows 10/11, the situation is simpler, Microsoft already offers its own antivirus software – Windows Security. On the other hand, your other devices still need antivirus protection.

If you want more protection on Windows, the free version of Spybot Search & Destroy performs deep scans as an extra layer of defense. Or even Norton Power Eraser if you suspect that your main antivirus seems powerless to detect the possible pirate program.

As long as you install one of these antivirus packages, you massively reduce the risk of infection on your computer, between your devices or those of your friends or colleagues who transfer files to you on USB sticks.

Microsoft Windows Security


Microsoft Windows Security

More than one user per computer?

Even if all family members are trustworthy, do not share your own user account with another person. Protect these accounts with passwords and create one account per user. To do this, go to Settings > Accounts in Windows; in macOS to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups.

Be careful what you install

You also need to be careful about what you install on your computer and where you download it from.

Harmless messages, email attachments, social media content, deceptive web links and computer threats can come from anywhere.

Make sure you get your new software from trusted sources or from the Apple, Google, or Windows app stores. Same logic for web browsers and their extensions and add-ons. For the latter, read their characteristics carefully, some, as you will see, are real spies, despite the advantages they offer. Remember that nothing is free.

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Watch out for suspicious signs

If, despite your software defenses and discipline, your computer performs suspicious actions such as eel under rocks. Or windows that appear briefly and then disappear again, a sign that a program is loading and then disappearing.

Other strange actions are mouse movements or unexplained text input, which can be a sign that something unknown is working in the background; changes to operating system settings; and the appearance of app shortcuts you didn’t notice before.

To find out for sure, go to Task Manager in Windows, select Processes tab to check applications and all processes in use. On macOS, open the Activity Monitor tool, press Command + 1 to open the Activity Monitor window (also available from the Windows menu) and select the Processor tab to sort the list of programs by available system resources .

This may seem very complicated to you, but keep an eye out for any suspicious or unknown processes and do a quick web search by their names to find out what they are.

For example, a malicious program could use your computer’s “free” processing capabilities to generate (mine) bitcoins.

With all these precautions, and most importantly, by adopting good habits, the chances of your favorite system being held hostage by a malicious program are very slim. Don’t neglect them.

Photo Adobe Stock

* To understand how macOS protection works, Apple embeds some anti-malware functions. First, there is “Gatekeeper”, which warns when applications are running without a digital signature. Then there’s XProtect, which scans files for known malware signatures. Finally, Apple provides the MRT (Malware Removal Tool). Gatekeeper and MRT are essentially invisible to users and have no direct user interface.

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