Common types of malware explained
Malware, or malicious software, is designed to make your life a living hell. It slows down your computer, steals information, and causes networks to crash. To protect yourself from it, you need to know what types of malware exist and what symptoms they cause when you've been infected.
Viruses are capable of spreading from one computer to another. Most of them are attached to executable files, which means they can sit dormant on your computer for weeks until you “execute” one of these files by opening it.
Once you’ve opened one of the infected files, the virus will spring into action and steal your information, slow down your computer, and even redirect you to explicit websites.
Antivirus software can detect and remove these threats by using threat intelligence databases to identify harmful programs. This means if you want to defend against the latest malware threats, you need to update your antivirus software regularly.
Similar to viruses, worms spread from computer to computer with a key difference being they don’t need anyone to click on a file: they exploit weaknesses in your software and spread copies of themselves over network connections.
The key symptoms of a worm infection are deleted files, faulty software, and dial-up connection speeds.
It’s difficult to get rid of self-replicating worms, but you can prevent them from spreading to your network using firewalls and intrusion prevention systems. These solutions inspect network traffic and block malicious code. Anti-malware software will also look for known ‘worm signatures’ and quarantine them from your network to make sure they don’t spread to other computers.
Spyware is an especially pernicious type of malware that runs in the background of your PC, secretly collecting personal information from your hard drive. This provides hackers with your passwords and bank details, allows them to record your search history, or take control of your laptop’s camera so they can watch every move you make.
Unlike other types of malware, spyware is subtle and doesn’t attempt to harm your computer in any obvious way. In other words, you may not notice any obvious symptoms, so regular system scans with anti-malware software is a good way to make sure your data can’t be stolen and sold on the Dark Web.
A Trojan horse is a program that runs malicious code once it’s gotten inside your machine. They usually get in through a digital backdoor that allows hackers to freely enter your network, steal your data, tinker with security settings, and leave without a trace.
Most anti-malware software will help keep those backdoors closed, but the best defense is to avoid them in the first place. Most Trojan horses are distributed as email attachments, so if you ever see a suspicious email with a file attachment that ends in .exe or unusual file extensions, delete it right away.
Trojan horses are only able to enter through back doors if your PC is connected to the internet, so if you think you've been attacked by one, all you need to do is disconnect from the internet and find and remove the malware by running a full scan with your anti-malware software.
Ransomware is a relatively new type of malware used for online extortion. Normally delivered via phishing emails, ransomware prevents users from accessing their data unless they pay a ransom.
Hackers will threaten to either go public with your data or delete it. No matter what they say, it’s not smart to give in to their demands because there are no guarantees that they’ll release your data.
The best protection against ransomware is to regularly back up your files in the cloud so even if ransomware does land on your network, you’ll have saved copies of every file that can be loaded up to replace the kidnapped ones.
If you’re looking for cutting-edge anti-malware software, firewalls, and backup systems, why not talk to Red Key Solutions? We have all the tools you need and the expertise to install, configure, and maintain them for you. Call us now.