Staying ahead of malware

What is Malware?

With all the benefits that the worldwide connectivity of the Internet offers, so too come the vulnerabilities. The more active individuals and businesses are on the Internet, the more opportunities cyber criminals have to exploit them. One of the most popular methods they use for doing this is malicious software, or “malware”. Though the main purpose of malware is financial theft, there are also many other types of malware that are designed to fulfill other purposes. 

How Does Malware Work?

What has greatly facilitated the success of cyber criminals is that they employ a diverse variety of tricks and methods that their victims are not expecting. One of these is viruses, which are installed after being launched from an EXE file that the user has been tricked into downloading. As the only type of method that infects the computer’s files, computer viruses modify legitimate host files so that the virus is executed at the same time as the computer’s host file. Without the ability to use a legitimate program, taking care of viruses is a tall task. Like viruses, trojans are installed from dubious EXE files, but they are designed to steal your computers sensitive and financial information. This may be done by competitors as well as disgruntled individuals as well, without any financial motivation. Another type of software is ransomware, which holds your computer ransom and threatens to destroy all of the files and data on it.

Yet another type of malicious software that a competitor or perhaps an unscrupulous individual may install is spyware, which steals secret company data. “Worms” meanwhile can copy themselves to multiple computers within a network, slowing down the network and frequently relying on outdated software and a lack of antivirus programs. Finally, the least threatening program you may download by accident is adware, programs which bombard you with unwanted, potentially harmful ads. 

A good first step in protecting your devices and files is by regularly downloading patches, updates, and anti-virus software you trust. To remove malware, you will have to find and delete the file that these programs originated from. If you’re not an expert in malware removal, be sure to back up any important files you have before formatting your drives and reinstalling your programs. Also, be very strict about what you download and make sure that your browser’s security settings are configured to detect automatic downloads and downloads you didn’t approve. Signs that you may have malware on your computer include unusual behavior on your device like crashes or repeated error messages, seeing pop-ups more often than usual, added toolbars that you didn’t have in your browser before, and regularly being redirected to unexpected websites or home pages. If you are experiencing these issues, cease making any payments immediately, update your software, run your security software, and, if things get out of hand, have a professional take care of your problem. If this is a corporate computer, definitely let the rest of your team know.

Rather than waiting until your device is exhibiting signs of danger, install a quality malware scanner from a professional development team that knows how to detect malware, how to check for malware, and will indicate to you if you have anything harmful on your device so you can remove it. These programs will routinely perform checks of your device and delete harmful files if present on your device so that you won’t have to remember yourself as well as prevent you from downloading dangerous files before it’s too late. 

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