Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
What is Malware?
Malware, which is a combination of the words malicious and software, is an umbrella term for any kind of software designed with malicious intent.
Not all malware is destructive, though it can cause annoying behaviors such as generating an abundance of pop-up ads or cause your computer to run slowly. In addition to this, it can also steal data.
What are some types of Malware?
Viruses infect program files and/or personal files. They are a malicious code or program written to change the way a computer works and is designed to spread from one computer to another.
Adware is software that shows unwanted advertising on a computer or mobile device in the form of pop-up ads or redirecting your browser to a specific website. Adware does not cause any direct harm to a user’s device: however, it can produce bothersome behaviors and can sometimes have spyware.
Spyware hides on your computer and monitors everything that you do. It can track web activity, access emails, and steal username and password information.
Browser hijacking is when malicious software redirects your computer’s browser to a designated website. It is typically used to display advertising, but it can also be used to generate visits to a particular website or lead you to a malicious website that downloads malware onto your computer.
Bots are an application that carries out the automated task on a user’s computer. An example would be an attack on other machines to create a botnet. When a bot infects a computer, the computer is referred to as a “zombie,” because it is now under the control of the hacker. Some of the uses of botnets are for distributing spam, injecting adware onto other computers, recruiting other computers for Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, and more.
Trojan Horses can cause severe harm to data such as deletion, modification, copying, stealing, and disruption of network activity. The malware is named Trojan Horse because it hides malware in a normal file. This is a reference to the Greek tale of the use of a wooden horse used to fool the defenders of Troy into allowing the hidden soldiers into their city during the Trojan Wars.
Ransomware is a high-level threat, as it holds the data on your computer hostage via file encryption, which often demands a fee to regain access to the data. Never pay the fee requested by the attacker to unlock your data. Instead, do regular backups, and if infected, restore your computer from your most recent backup. In the event that this occurs to your computer, please reach out to the Help Desk.
A computer worm spreads as many copies of itself from computer to computer. A worm can replicate itself without any human interference and does not need to attach itself to a program to cause damage. Worms can change, delete files, and inject more malware onto the computer.
How can you protect yourself from Malware?
The best way to avoid malware is to keep your devices healthy and up to date. Critically, you can help to prevent malware from reaching your computer by installing an antivirus/anti–malware program. You make sure to configure it to constantly scan for signs of malicious activity in downloads and active files. Some recommended antivirus/anti-malware programs included Sophos, Bitdefender, and Malware Bytes. If you have questions about antivirus/anti-malware programs, please reach out to the Help Desk.