The online world can be a wonderful place, but it also poses many dangers towards its users. Online predators, hackers, identity theft, sextortion, and much more. One of the most common threats on the internet is malware. To learn more about this online threat, continue reading below.
What Is Malware?
Malware describes any malicious software with the intent to cause harm, exploit devices, or get unauthorized access to a network. Malware can accomplish any number of tasks including stealing data and crashing devices or systems. Typically, malware gains access through email attachments, malvertising, fake apps or software downloads, texts, phishing emails, and more.
What Are The Different Types of Malware?
A virus is malicious code that attaches to clean code and waits for a user or system to activate it. Once executed, the virus will spread, causing damage to all systems, networks, devices, and data it comes across.
Spyware is a type of software that retrieves all of the activities and data from a device. Information that could be retrieved by spyware includes sensitive information, media, communications (texts, emails, etc), programs and apps being used, and more. Spyware is often used without the knowledge of the person being monitored.
A trojan (also known as a trojan horse) disguises itself as a legitimate software or application. Once downloaded by an unsuspecting victim, it will create a backdoor to access the device. The trojan will then be able to steal data, crash the system, or spy on the device.
When unsolicited advertisements are shown to users to perform some sort of action. They usually appear in the form of a pop-up or blinking ad.
Worms are able to self-duplicate, moving from machine to machine by exploiting security or software flaws. This form of malware is most commonly used when trying to infect an entire network.
Ransomware infects a device in order to retrieve and encrypt data files. Afterwards, a ransom is requested in exchange for the return of the files that were encrypted.
How To Prevent Malware From Infecting Your Devices
Regularly Update Your Devices & Apps
First and foremost, regularly update all of your devices and applications. Some of these updates you’ll receive will be intended to patch software or security flaws which computer viruses and other threats could exploit.
Use Antivirus Software
To prevent a malware attack, install an antivirus or anti-malware software on your devices. These programs are able to detect malware and other threats, and quarantine them before they do damage to the device.
Be Careful What You Download
The most common way malware gains access to a device is by being downloaded in the form of a file, software program, or app. Before you download anything to your devices, take a second look or do a little more research to ensure the file is safe.
Only Visit Legitimate Sites
The internet contains many fake websites pretending to be legitimate businesses and shops which contain malware. These sites will try to persuade you to enter, purchase, or sign-up for something. In general, only trust visiting websites you have heard of or visited before.
Only Use Secure Wi-Fi Connections
Often, hackers will create fake Wi-Fi networks that will infect users’ devices with malware once they connect. These networks will often appear like legitimate connections or mimic other ones in the area. When at home, use your own private Wi-Fi network. While in public, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks whenever possible.
Enable Your Firewall
When your device firewall is enabled, the incoming and outgoing network traffic is monitored and controlled. This barrier comes in handy in protecting your device from threats, especially when you are using the internet.
How To Get Rid of Malware On Your Device
Disconnect From The Internet
If you believe your device has been infected by malware, immediately disconnect your computer’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. As we said previously, most malware is transferred using an internet connection. By doing this, it prevents the malware from infecting your device further.
Restart Your Computer In Safe Mode
To stop all unnecessary background apps running on your computer (if that’s the device that’s infected), restart your computer in Safe Mode. This can be done on computers running on Windows 10.
Delete Any Downloaded Suspicious Files, Software, & Apps
Look at your recent file, software, and app downloads, and remove any that are not needed or look suspicious. Malware is usually transferred to your device through a recently downloaded document. Make sure to empty your device trash to permanently delete these downloads.
Use Anti-Malware Software
To catch and remove malware permanently, you will need to use anti-malware software. This also doubles as malware protection, helping to prevent your device from becoming infected in the first place.
Clear Your Browser Cache & Browsing Data
Once you have done all of the above, reconnect to the internet and clear your web browser cache and browsing data. So, if you downloaded a file from the web, this will prevent it from being re-downloaded accidentally and doing further damage.
These are the essentials to know about malware, and how to prevent and get rid of it. Malware is something you should never underestimate. It can not only impact your devices, but those of your family and coworkers.