Keep a Clean Machine Campaign

Keeping your Internet-connected devices free from malware and infections makes the Internet safer for you and more secure for everyone.

The STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Keep a Clean Machine Campaign is an effort to help computer users keep their machines free from malware - especially malware that connects their computers with botnets.

What Are Botnets?

Botnets are networks of personal computers infected by malware and remote controlled by criminals. Botnets are used to send junk email (spam), attack websites, and distribute more malware, among other things.

The malware used by botnets can infect your computer, turning it into a "bot" or "zombie," meaning your computer can become part of the botnet and help criminals do their dirty work.

To learn more about botnets, visit Microsoft Security's Botnet page and read the  "Botnets 101: Everything You Need To Know" blog from StopBadware and the National Cyber Security Alliance.


Keep a Clean Machine

  • Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.

  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

  • Plug & scan: “USBs” and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Connect With Care

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  • Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.

If You Think You're Infected

  • Act quickly: If you are notified, become aware or suspect your computer is infected, take immediate steps to remove malware.


Here are some free resources to see if your computer is infected:



Once your computer is malware-free, here are some suggestions to get you back on track:
  • Change your passwords. Make your new passwords long and strong. Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password. And remember, unique account, unique password. 
  • Make sure your anti-virus software, operating system and web browsers are up-to-date.

In cases of identity theft, you should do the folloing:

  • File a report with your local law enforcement agency.  Even if your local police or sheriff’s department doesn’t have jurisdiction over the crime (a common occurrence for online crime which may originate in another jurisdiction or even another country), you will need to provide a copy of the police report to your banks, creditors, other businesses, credit bureaus, and debt collectors.
  • Contact one of the three credit bureaus to report the crime (Equifax at 1-800-525-6285, Experian at 1-888-397-3742, or TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289).  Request that the credit bureau place a fraud alert on your credit report to prevent any further fraudulent activity (such as opening an account with your identification) from occurring.
  • Contact your bank and other financial institutions. Close any unauthorized or compromised credit or charge accounts. Cancel each credit and charge card. Get new cards with new account numbers.

More Resources:


I Keep A Clean Machine Poster    When In Doubt, I Throw Links Out Poster  I'm Careful About WiFi Poster    I Do My Part To Fight Cybercrime Poster           


Protect Your Computer from Malware Video from

Learn More About Botnets:


International Botnet Resources: