Even with the best defenses in place, some malware can slip through the cracks. In this article, we’ll go over the different types of malware and how to protect yourself as best you can, from infections occurring.
Malware (or malicious software) is a type of software designed to harm your computer in any way shape or form. This can steal your passwords, spy on your activities, and even lock up files so you can’t access them.
There are different types of malware that exist. So it’s important to know what they are and what their specific functions are. In the next section, we’ll go over the list of common malware to be aware of.
Here are the types of malware that exist (and how they infect computers):
Adware is when unwanted ads will pop up on your screen. This is a common occurrence when you are using a web browser. These ads can appear legitimate (when in reality they can be used to trick you to install an unwanted program).
Like the name itself, it is designed to spy on the user’s computer activities. This often happens without the permission of the user itself. The software designer will be able to receive the data they need from the users they are targeting.
A virus will be attached to a program. If the program is activated, the virus will infect the computer and affect its functionality. It can even cause other computer programs to be modified using bits of its own code.
Worms are self-replicated, just like viruses. However, they have the ability to spread across entire systems. They may not need any kind of activation, unlike viruses.
Of all the types of malware that exist, this is one of the most dangerous. That’s because it can pose as a legitimate program. It can trick you into downloading it and even activating the program.
When this happens, the cybercriminal will gain access to the computer. From there, they can steal just about anything from financial information and other pieces of sensitive data.
This has the capability of locking you out of your files using encryption. You won’t be able to access it without paying a ‘ransom’ to the attacker. Typically, they’ll demand cryptocurrency since it’s hard to trace.
The goal of the attacker is to receive the ransom or steal the files. Ransomware can be removed by a professional. If you are dealing with this, you’ll want to contact your local IT support to have it removed immediately.
This will record keystrokes from a user’s computer. This will be intended to gather information such as credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords.
This will infect a computer and allow the attacker to gain administrative privileges (or root access). The attacker will also be hidden while performing malicious tasks on your system.
Here are the common signs of malware infection that you need to be aware of:
- Slow computer: One of the most common issues is that your computer’s speed will slow down. This will include while you’re surfing the web or using offline applications. If the system’s resource usage is much higher than normal, your computer will likely be affected. Plus, the computer’s fans will be running at full speed.
- Annoying ads: These ads will pop up repeatedly. This is another indication that malware has infected your computer.
- Unexplained loss of disk space: You lose disk space and it can be a large amount. This can be due to malware bloating.
- System crash: Your computer may freeze and receive constant fatal error messages.
Malware infections can be prevented using the following measures:
- Avoid suspicious emails, attachments, and apps
- Avoid clicking on pop-up ads
- Use strong passwords and use 2FA or multi-factor authentication on everything
- Check the domain name for each website you visit. If it doesn’t have a top-level domain, leave the site.
- Download apps only from Google Play or the Apple App Store (if using tablets, smartphones, etc.)
- Update your operating system and applications regularly
- Backup your data on a regular basis
- Install an endpoint protection app that can scan and block active threats
Malware infections are largely preventable, and following the above steps will help to keep your devices malware free. Today cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated and sometimes it is difficult to identify them, our team of cybersecurity experts can help you keep yourself and your business safe, get in touch if you would like to learn more.