Everything you need to know about malware and how to keep your devices safe.
WHAT IS MALWARE?
Malware, short for malicious software, is crafted to cause chaos on software, hardware, and connected networks. From targeted attacks on specific files to locking you out of your accounts, stealing your passwords, and logging your every keystroke, malware can make your life a living nightmare. It can cause your computer to slow down, overheat and infect your system with even more viruses, all without you even knowing. A single accidental click on a suspicious link can set off a chain reaction of cyberattacks, such as DDoS attacks, that can compromise your privacy.
THE FIVE MOST COMMON TYPES OF MALWARE:
- VIRUSES – Viruses are the most prevalent type of malware as it is very easy to get. A simple slip-up like visiting an unsafe website or downloading a shady program can infect your device. Viruses corrupt your files and bring your device’s performance to a screeching halt.
- SPYWARE –Spyware silently lurks in the background and snatches your personal information. It hunts for your passwords, IP address, and even your saved credit card details. Keyloggers are the most notorious type of spyware, tracking every keystroke you make and using that information to steal your data.
- TROJANS – The digital equivalent of the Trojan horse, Trojans disguise themselves as a harmless program or software, only to unleash its malicious code once you download it. They pretend to be reputable programs, tricking you into letting your guard down. Once they infiltrate your system, they corrupt as many files as they can.
- RANSOMWARE – Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files, demands payment, and threatens to delete the files if the payment is not made. It has become more prevalent due to the rise of online payment methods, and it’s a serious threat to the security of your data.
- ROOTKITS – Rootkits allow hackers to gain remote access to your computer the moment they’re installed. It is coded to be undetectable by most victims, silently stealing your data in the background.
There are various reasons why malware is created and used, however, every reason is made with the intent to steal information. Whether it goes after your passwords, infects your files, spies on you, or steals millions of dollars in seconds, malware doesn’t discriminate. As soon as it is installed in your device it begins to destroy your system from the inside.
IS MY DEVICE INFECTED?
Knowing the signs and symptoms of malware is just as important as knowing the different types of malware. Below are the most common signs that your device has been infected.
COMMON SIGNS OF MALWARE:
- Your device’s performance and speed suddenly drop, become laggy, and applications crash frequently. This is because malware purposefully takes up a large portion of your device’s processing power.
- Many of your files are suddenly missing or cannot be opened due to becoming corrupted.
- You begin to see pop-up ads more frequently on your device. Such a symptom often points to Adware, a type of malware that uses advertisements to make you accidentally click on and download a virus.
- Your browser randomly opens websites without you even typing them in.
- A ransom note appears on your device demanding payment to remove corrupted files or for you to get your stolen passwords back.
- You suddenly have applications that you didn’t download installed into your system.
- Your contacts, either on your email or social media, start notifying you that they are receiving strange messages from your account.
How Do I Fight Malware?
Malware is a constant threat, ready to attack your device at any moment. It’s essential to arm yourself with the knowledge of how to fight back. Whether your device has already been infected or not, here are the best ways to combat malware:
- Protect your device from viruses by steering clear of unfamiliar apps or software offered by strangers online. Don’t be a victim of their tricks.
- Stay far from unfamiliar or unsecured websites. Keep your device safe by only visiting trusted sites.
- Be careful when downloading files, especially from free streaming sites. They may have pirated files with malware. Only use trusted sites to download files.
- Regularly update your device’s software. Outdated software equals weak security, so beef up your protection by staying current.
- Use trusted adblockers and antivirus software. Even if you’re careful online, malware can still find a way in. Keep your device safe with certified programs.