You may have come across the term malware before but probably haven’t given it much thought. As long as there’s an antivirus program installed on your computer, why should you worry about malware? The truth is that malware attacks are rising. Experts expect at least 1348.37 million forms of malware by 2022. While it is true that these attackers usually target corporations, you still need to know what malware is so that you can protect yourself at all times, whether you’re at home or the office.
While we take a deeper look at malware, we’ll also look at ways users can protect themselves from these attacks. For example, you can buy an HTTP proxy, a powerful antivirus program and keep secure backups to start protecting yourself.
In this article about malware, we’ll be covering the following topics:
- What is malware?
- How does malware spread?
- What damage can be done by malware?
- How to protect your computer from malware?
What Is Malware?
Malware is an umbrella term to describe software programs designed to secretly install themselves on computers and cause various forms of havoc. Malware has been around as long as the internet and along with technological improvements, malicious software (malware) has also become more sophisticated. While the attacks have always been malicious, they’ve become exceedingly profitable for the perpetrators, which has led to an increase in malware attacks.
Now let’s look at these top five forms of malware in more detail.
Like biological viruses, this type of malware spreads by replicating itself. Once a device has been infected, this can be a computer, USB, external hard drive, etc. When you connect another device, it will also become infected and help spread the malicious program.
Trojans look just like real programs, which makes them so effective. Because they masquerade as real programs, they are installed on devices and then collect sensitive data, copy files and even delete data. Trojans are some of the most commonly found malware.
Worms mostly target data in transit, so while it’s being sent. Worms are standalone programs that can travel between systems on their own, and they don’t need to infect a device, like a virus, to spread or multiply.
Ransomware is one of the most financially damaging forms of malware out there. During a ransomware attack, the victim’s computer, data and systems can be held ransom until the victim pays the attacker. This type of attack can bring a business to a complete standstill, as the victim will not be able to use the computer, data or systems being held hostage until the attack’s demands are met.
Apart from these, other types of malware and new types get added all the time. Here are a few other types of malware you might come across:
- Rogue security software
- Browser hijacker
- Fileless malware
How Does Malware Spread?
Cybercriminals are continually working on new ways to spread malicious software and affect as many people and businesses as possible.
Some of the ways that malware can be spread include:
- The internet
- Outdated software
- Devices connected to a local area network
- Instant messaging and file-sharing networks
- Social networks
- Storage media
- Mobile devices
What Damage Can Be Done By Malware?
Malware’s effects on your computer, network or systems vary greatly depending on each threat. Some viruses will slow down your computer tremendously, whereas something like ransomware can completely prohibit you from accessing your data.
Malware can cause great harm to the hardware of your computer or device. Some viruses can delete the data in the bios, causing your computer to stop working. Certain trojans can also open and close your CD/DVD ROM or programs on your device that eventually lead to system or device failures.
Malware can also lead to data loss and theft. Data is a valuable commodity and can easily be sold. Many cybercriminals use malware to infiltrate a business system or network and can then steal any valuable data that can be resold on the dark web. The data that works best for this is consumer and other personal details, i.e. name, surname, ID number, social security details, medical details, etc. Keyloggers, for example, sit patiently on your computer and record all of your keystrokes. These are used to collect login details and credentials that the attacker can use to access your accounts. Ransomware can also lead to data loss as your data is kept hostage until the ransom is paid, and even then, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get the data back.
How To Protect Your Computer From Malware?
There are a few different ways that you can protect your computer. When it comes to protecting against a term as broad as malware, it’s best to use a combined approach. First off, ensure that you have a powerful and reliable antivirus program installed. Then, you should buy an HTTP proxy that will secure your online connection and protect you by disguising your IP address, making it difficult to be hacked. Also, make sure that you automatically set up your antivirus to scan your devices at regular intervals. Next, make sure that you keep your operating system, software, apps and browser up to date. Having outdated programs opens your system up to attack as these contain vulnerabilities. Finally, make frequent secure backups which you can use to restore your system after an attack.
Malware is a very broad term that encompasses many different types of malicious software that can be used to create all kinds of chaos. Since money is to be made by selling the data or holding it ransom, these attacks keep rising. To effectively protect yourself, you’ll need to buy an HTTP proxy and strong antivirus program, make frequent backups, and ensure that all programs are up to date.