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What is a Malware?

Malware, short for malicious software, is a common method cyber criminals use to access your devices, service or network. Malware is often hidden in links or attachments, in emails or SMS, but can also be downloaded via malicious advertisements, unauthorised software installations or even infected apps.

Viruses, trojans, spyware and ransomware are all types of malware.

How they contact you

You are most likely to receive malware via email or your mobile phone.

How they contact you1 % How they contact you1 %



In person






Text message


Mobile applications




Not applicable


Social Networking




What they're after

Malware is used to gain access to your data which cybercriminals may use for financial gain. This data could be anything, such as your banking details, healthcare records, personal emails, or passwords. The possibilities of what sort of information can be compromised have become endless.

Common ways malware may be downloaded to your device

An email or text asks you to open an attachment or has a link to an internet site.

Be wary. Is it from their usual address something they would usually send, does it feel right, and does the link address look right?

An internet site offers free software, games, music, movies or videos.

Be wary. These sites may load malicious software onto your device.

Someone contacts you unexpectedly and asks you to download software or access your computer.

Do not follow their directions, download software or give someone access to your device.

Signs you may have Malware:

Your browser redirects your searches
Frequent pop-up warnings.
Your computer is slow.
Take your computer to a professional IT technician for assistance.

Signs you may have Malware

  • Your browser redirects your searches.
  • Frequent pop-up warnings.
  • Your device is slow.
  • Important information changes such as payment details or transfers to a new payee.

    Take your device to a professional IT technician for assistance.

Who should I contact and examples of malware?

Sarah received a parcel delivery notification via email. Having recently purchased several items online, she assumed it was related to one of these.

Sarah clicked on the tracking link in the email, but the page did not load. She clicked the link again but still could not get the page to load.

Sarah decided to go directly to her AustPost account to check the details and saw there was nothing listed for delivery today. She presumed the email had been sent in error.

Over the next couple of days, Sarah noticed her computer was running slower than usual, which was becoming frustrating as she had several payments she needed to make for her small business.

Shortly after, Sarah signed into online banking and found her access had been suspended. She contacted the bank and was advised by their fraud team that there was suspected malware on her device. After confirming the transactions she had performed that day, they noticed one of the payee accounts had been amended. Luckily for Sarah, the bank had stopped the processing of that payment, due to the discrepancy. Sarah followed the banks instructions to assist in removing the malware from her device.

Latest Scams

To stay in the loop, and stay protected, check out our list of the latest phishing scams impersonating Westpac.

Report a scam

If you receive any suspicious calls, emails or SMS messages, or notice unusual activity on your account, it’s important that you let us know.

Security Wellbeing Check

To help keep you up to date with the latest security features, we’ve introduced the Security Wellbeing Check. Found in the Westpac App, it checks your Westpac settings and suggests how you can improve the security of your banking facilities.

Things you should know

1. Delivery method percentages are based on the number of reports from 1 January 2020 to 31 October 2020. The data is sourced from the Australian  Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) scam watch website and is based on reports provided to the ACCC by web form and over the phone.

*Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.