The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

About malware

What is malware?

Malware refers to malicious software that is downloaded to your machine typically for obtaining information or access to your network/device.  Malware can be sent to victims via spam through attachments and links contained in the electronic message itself.

What can I do reduce the risk of malware?

  • Ensure software on your device is up to update and regularly check for future updates. This includes your operating system (OS), all programs including anti-virus and your internet browser (such as Chrome or Firefox).
  • Don’t open attachments or click links in emails that are untrusted or sent from unknown senders.  If an email is sent to you from a known friend or family member but looks suspicious, verify the email by other means.
  • If you are concerned that a legitimate entity is trying to contact you via an electronic message but are suspicious about the content of that message, contact the organisation directly regarding the matter without clicking any links.
  • Only download from known trusted software or product providers, beware of “free” deals, additional items which may be bundled with your download, or third parties who offer items outside of the direct source.
  • Don’t click on pop-up advertisements or banners about your computer that come from an unknown source.
  • Do not plug in untrusted peripheral devices such as USB drives.  Only use trusted devices and scan such devices before using.
  • Back up your computer regularly ensuring you include any files such as photos and important documents. Keep the information on a separate drive as well as any connected storage systems you may be using.
  • Also, see our tips for avoiding spam page.

Help I think I’m infected or found something suspicious!

If you have noticed your computer slowing down, crashing repeatedly, finding constant errors, is redirecting you to websites you didn’t request, serves you constant pop-up messages or demands payment due to the websites you have visited, you may have a malware problem.

  • Ensure you stop any shopping, banking or sharing of private information on the device.
  • Check your device with anti-virus or security software where possible.
  • Contact tech-support if available with you device, software or service provider but only use known channels of communication.  Please note however there are tech support scams.  Never trust a caller who is unknown, contacts you out of the blue and claims your device is infected and demands payment for fixing the device.
  • Seek the assistance of a technician or a computer specialist in your area.

You can also consider contacting the following organisations for further online advice or reporting:

My files are locked and I’m being told I’ve been told I have 48 hours to pay to unlock them!

A common malware that is currently in circulation via spam is ransomware.  Ransomware forces the files on your computer to be encrypted and ‘locked’ by a malicious party who then demands payment to unlock the files.

If you are a victim of ransomware it is advisable not to pay. Try to restore your device and files using previous backups.  If unsuccessful try using https://www.nomoreransom.org/ to see if they can help you decrypt the files.  Reports of ransomware indicate that malicious parties have decrypted the files when paid however there is no guarantee this will happen.

More information: