Attacks on computer systems and networks are nothing new. Since the existence of computers came the existence of computer viruses. However, as technology advances, these malicious pieces of code are also becoming more advanced. But what is malware and is it really such a big deal? Can’t you just browse through VPN and proxy prices to get the cheapest one and call it a day?
The reality is that malware can have a major impact on individuals and businesses. If you don’t know what malware is, how it originates, or how to protect yourself, you might become an easy victim of one of these attacks. Keep reading to discover what you need to know about malware in order to protect your device, network, and systems.
What Is Malware?
Malware is a catch-all term that can refer to any malicious software. These are harmful programs created with the purpose of causing havoc, gaining access to restricted systems, and exploiting vulnerabilities within those systems. It has been developed to secretly install itself on a host computer and then cause harm in some way.
Malware can be used to steal confidential or sensitive information such as financial details, login credentials, and personal details. It can also be used to lock down an entire system or database and hold it ransom until the user pays up. All in all, malware never comes with good intentions and should be avoided at all costs.
Types Of Malware
There are different types of malware, let’s take a look at a few of them.
Viruses are some of the oldest forms of malware we see. The programs continually replicate themselves. This is very similar to how biological viruses replicate, hence the name. Once a device comes into contact with an infected device it’ll become infected as well and help to spread the virus further. This can happen over a Wi-Fi network, USB drive, hard drive, and more. This replication process can severely slow down a system as each duplicate takes more system resources.
Trojans are highly convincing types of malware. Just like the Trojan horse, these programs masquerade as another program, tricking the user into clicking on them. Once the user has opened the trojan it will start collecting, copying, and deleting files and important information. Trojans are the most common type of malware you’ll find today because they’re so effective.
These types of malicious software target data while it’s in transit. However, unlike viruses, worms can stand on their own. They do not need to replicate like viruses do to infect and gain access to a new device or network. Worms can go where they want and travel between systems on their own.
Ransomware has gained popularity amongst cybercriminals in recent years and is often used to target businesses with financial capital. These types of malware gain access to a system or network and make the data completely inaccessible. The users would then have to pay a ransom amount; usually in cryptocurrency; in the hope of getting access back. However, there’s no guarantee that they will, and in many cases, businesses would pay the ransom and still not get access back to their systems.
How Does Malware Spread?
Malware can spread in many different ways, however, we’ll be looking at the three most popular here.
Emails have been used for many years to spread malware because it’s so simple to use. Attackers send malware in emails, and once the email is opened the malware starts collecting data.
In these situations, attackers will create websites or display ads that are used to spread malware. By downloading things or clicking on links from these sites you risk getting infected. Another example is a pop-up that appears on your screen saying that your system has been infected and you should click on ‘Ok’ to remove it. Meanwhile, by clicking on ‘Ok’ you’re actually installing the malware.
These methods are often used to gain access and infect systems on closed networks. Since these networks are isolated from the internet, they can’t fall victim to web-driven malware. As such, cybercriminals need to use a more direct approach. This includes using an infected USB, hard drive, or another device to spread the malware onto the network.
How To Protect Your System Against Malware
Here are a few top tips to help you protect your system and network against malware:
- Buy proxies from trusted providers with affordable proxy prices
- Use trusted antivirus and anti-malware software
- Conduct regular security scans
- Keep your hardware and software up to date at all times
- Keep comprehensive backups
- Restrict access points to critical information
- Don’t forget to also protect the mobile device that connects to the network
- Educate employees on cyber security, the threats that await, and best practices to navigate those situations
Malware is one of the unfortunate realities we have to live with. However, just because we have to live with it, that doesn’t mean we have to fall victim to these attacks. By implementing various protection measures such as using high-quality proxy providers with affordable proxy prices, using a good antivirus program, keeping your programs up to date, and practicing caution when opening emails or clicking on suspicious links.