What are viruses and malware?

Home learning focus

Learn the basics of computer viruses and malware and practise your typing skills.

This lesson includes:

  • one video about how malware and virus can affect your device

  • four activities to try at home


Viruses and malware are programs that can damage digital devices such as phones, tablets, computers or watches.

The following video explores viruses and malware in more detail.

How malware and virus can affect your devices

What is malware?

Malware is a program designed to damage your device.

It could:

  • steal your information
  • crash your system
  • reboot your device
  • slow down your device
  • slow down your internet connection

Common types of malware


A virus is a program that gets onto your device usually through an email attachment or fake software update.

You might download and run it by mistake.

It damages other programs and data on the device. It can spread easily and quickly.


Spyware is software that installs itself onto devices and then steals personal information like passwords, email addresses and other important information.

It often does it just by keeping a record of everything the user types, which is called key logging.

Some spyware can even use your webcam without your knowledge.


They damage the device by copying themselves hundreds of times, so they can very quickly slow down your device and others.

For example, they could copy themselves and email everyone in your contacts list.

Trojan horse

A trojan horse (or trojan) is a program hidden inside a safe program.

It looks like a safe program but it contains code that damage your device or steal information when it is run.

How can you avoid viruses or malware?

  • Don't download files unless you trust what they are

  • If you get an email, don't open it or click on any links unless it is from an address you recognise

  • Don't run a program if you don’t know where it has come from and haven’t chosen to install it

  • Install anti-virus software and run regular scans

Did you know?

An email cannot corrupt your device on its own.

Viruses can be hidden in attachments and these could corrupt your system when you run them.

Anti-virus software can help keep you device safe.

Own It

The CBBC Own It app is here to help you be the boss of your online life.

You can find straight answers and get support, and know what to do if you have a problem online.

You can also get tips, knowledge and insider info on all the internet’s secrets.



Now you can try and put some of what you have learned about viruses and malware into action.

Activity 1

Virus and malware flashcards

See if you know the meaning of virus and malware vocabulary with these flashcards from Quizlet.

Virus and malware flashcards

Activity 2

Antivirus learning pack

Take it further and download the Antivirus learning pack below from iCompute to learn more about viruses and malware.

Antivirus learning pack

Activity 3

Keyboard posters

Download the set of keyboard posters below from Twinkl to help you learn to touch type.

Keyboard posters

Activity 4

Dance Mat Typing

Learn to improve your typing speed and accuracy with the Dance Mat Typing game from BBC Bitesize.

Dance Mat Typing

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

More lessons for Year 4 and P5
KS2 Computing
KS2 Computing
Play more Bitesize games
Computer education at home