This is probably the most widespread and worrisome Web attack.
Malware infiltrates your computer without your consent or your knowledge. And malware software types have been exploding recently.
Your computer can get infected in two different ways. You can click on an online link and download a poisoned program. Or you can click on an infected e-mail.
Once malware is installed on your computer, cyber criminals can track your every move on the Internet, including your online banking transactions. Then, they can empty your account.
"Just Web browsing exposes you to risk," says Jason Milletary, a technical director of malware analysis at information security firm SecureWorks Inc. in Atlanta. "We tell banks that they have to assume that their customers are going to be compromised."
To fend off malware, avoid going to small hosted websites with community forums, such as computer game sites. Security usually isn't as diligent, he says. Often free software and other pop-ups have malware embedded.
Another option is using a dedicated home computer or virtual desktop just for online banking and bill paying. Milletary also suggests having your antivirus programs regularly updated.