Malware includes viruses, spyware and other software that has been installed on your computer without your consent. Malicious users install these programs in order to steal your personal information, send spam, or commit fraud. The Federal Trade Commission provides Malware tips on how to:

  • Avoid Malware

  • Detect Malware

  • Get Rid of Malware

  • Report Malware


Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that attempts to extort money from victims by restricting access to a computer system or files. The most prevalent form of this profit-motivated malware is crypto-ransomware, which encrypts files into encoded messages that can only be decrypted (decoded) with a key held by the malicious actor.

Users are shown instructions for how to pay a fee to get the decryption key. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, payable to cybercriminals in Bitcoin.