What is Malware?
Malware is short for malicious software and comes in many different forms. While some may believe that its purpose is to slow down or make a computer unusable, in reality that's only a side effect. The main focus is to bypass security or steal information. This leads to the question;
What are the different types of malware and how can I protect myself against them?
'Virus' is the most universal term for malware or odd computer issues. They are often blamed for even the most mundane computer problems; however, they are not always to blame. Many of the side effects they cause are very similar to other technical problems. Computer viruses get their namesake from viral infections due to similarities in life-cycle and side effects. Having an actual virus is very dangerous to a computer's health and the network it is on.
Viruses are one of the more dangerous forms of malware, both due to how quickly they can spread and how much damage they can cause. As the years have gone on, viruses have become better at hiding themselves. antiviruses have had to step up their game as a result.
Worms are the most common type of malware and have been around for most of the internet's history. Worms have changed significantly since it first came about in 1988. The main defining feature of this malicious software is that they can replicate and spread without human interaction aside from opening an infected file. We will go over what makes a worm unique, how they spread, and what have been some of worst attacks.
Computer worms have been around almost as long as the internet and will continue to be a threat as the internet continues. It is imperative to keep computers up to date and to have a reliable antivirus installed.
Ever since the first days of the world-wide-web, a form of blackmail called 'Ransomware' has plagued businesses and individuals alike. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish data and/or block your access to the files until a payment is made. Usually you have a deadline of only a few days to pay the hacker and sometimes you get two deadlines for different reasons. Ransomware is the modern way of extortion and will disable you from using systems and devices until you pay up. Criminals (especially cybercriminals) are smart, quick, and adaptive. They will always be searching for ways to exploit weak networks and profit off an organization's demise. Sometimes, paying the person does not even solve all your problems. There is no reason they cannot continue extorting you for more money.
Here is a SMB RANSOMWARE EPIDEMIC that covers the evolution of ransomware from Q2-2016 to Q2-2017.
Acting as a carrier for more harmful forms of malware, both Trojans and Adware set out to accomplish the same goal and each goes about this task in its own unique way. Generally, adware shows adverts that either pop-up or are in a window that cannot be closed. By comparison, Trojans masquerade as legitimate programs, but are just in disguise.
While Adware and Trojans are not the most dangerous forms of malicious software, they are some of the fastest growing. Many antiviruses are now using website scanners to help protect online browsing.
Spyware can see what you are doing on your computer or mobile device. It aims to gather data on the person or organization it is targeting without consent and without the user's knowledge. Just as Adware, Trojans, system monitors and browser cookies, (which are all forms of spyware) it collects information about your surfing habits, browsing history, or personal information (such as credit card numbers), and often uses the Internet to pass this information along to third parties without you knowing. It can also be referred to as tracking software for this reason.
So, you do not want to be tracked by people with malicious intent… It may sound a bit blunt, but the best way to avoid getting spyware is to not get it in the first place. It is a very easily avoidable problem with simple knowledge of what to avoid paired with a good antivirus/antispyware solution.
Phishing is an attempt at getting someone to hand over sensitive information online for malicious reasons. This can be done in a variety of ways and is almost always a dangerous thing for businesses. Although it can be very difficult to train certain employee behavior, this is the best defense against spam. Implementing proactive means of training your staff/coworkers is a terrific way to protect your organization.
Never post personal data like passwords, IP addresses, or any of the common security risk stuff. Many people overlook simple things like birthdays, when people are taking vacations and even social media data, but these can be quite dangerous as they can be used to impersonate people and trick others into trusting the phishing campaigns.
NOW THE QUESTION IS HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF AGAINST MALICIOUS SOFTWARE?
The best place to start is to have a reliable antivirus. Make sure your computer is up to date, as this is the simplest tactic to staying safe. Use strong passwords and do not use the same password for multiple accounts. While online, avoid clicking ads and do not click untrustworthy links. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to computer safety, but these are some of the more potent and effective to get into the habit of. Following these guidelines will substantially decrease the risk of getting infected, which in turn increases a user's piece of mind, helping you sleep at night. And isn't that the end goal anyway?
If you would like more peace of mind, apply for a free network risk assessment on you company!