Like the massive security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus retailers, cyber security experts are warning the public that their personal computers can also be susceptible to a malware attack. 

Unlike a traditional computer virus, malicious software -- also known as malware -- can infect a computer differently by installing software designed to steal personal information from users.

“Malware and viruses are different. They behave differently, they attack your computer differently,” said Tracey Yanez, IT specialist for KSAT-TV.  “A hacker will successfully download spyware onto your computer, and with every key stroke and mouse click, it can grab your emails, it can grab your credit card numbers, it can grab passwords and send them directly to the hacker.”

Yanez said at times your computer can demonstrate symptoms of being affected -- like restarting on its own -- or acting sluggish, but many times the malware goes undetected.

Infections can happen in a variety of ways, including click on links, downloading attachments, or visiting an infected website. 

To prevent being compromised, Yanez recommends keeping your operating system up to date, updating your anti-virus software and downloading an anti-malware program, as not all anti-virus software is designed to catch malware.

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