Malware is software which isn’t classified as a virus but can have a similar effect on a PC – slowing down, crashing, unexpected events.
You could be searching for something fairly run-of-the-mill like the football results, or a new sofa. Then you find your local furniture store’s website carries this warning:
“Site might lead you to malicious software that can harm your computer”
If you know the company and shopped with them beforehand, do you take your business elsewhere to avoid phishing? Do you contact them through alternative means or do you chance a visit to their website no matter what?
We would generally recommend the first option, though you could always take the second option if the business has a telephone number or email address. If you take the third option, tread carefully.
Malware often poses as legitimate software to try and deceive the user into installing it. Sometimes it installs automatically, trying to get the user to perform dangerous tasks. To try and remove it, download reputable software such as SpyBot, update it and run a full scan, preferably in safe mode.
Microsoft has also released early versions of their antispyware software, which is also useful. See more information on and download it from Microsoft Safety Scanner. If you’re running Windows XP, you should also update to Service Pack 3.