In the era of Social media, our privacy and online safety becomes increasingly important. We’re sharing our lives online; however, we should also know how much is too much and how to save our private data from unwanted intrusion.
The point is, our private information is valuable to cybercriminals who use it to deprive us of our hard-earned money and even ruin our reputation by stealing our identity. Leaving our data “up for grabs” means we might have a difficult time applying for a home loan or even get a passport.
With this being said, it’s essential to know what kinds of dangers lurk around, being able to recognize it and protect ourselves from cyber-attacks.
That’s why we decided to explain thoroughly what is malware, what types of it exist, and how to ensure our data, privacy, and devices are safe.
What is Malware, and why is it so important?
“Malware” refers to malicious software, used to describe any software (or code for that matter) made to inflict damage on mobile and desktop devices by exploiting those devices or data they carry, without the consent of their owners. Malware is usually made to achieve some financial gain – whether it’s about seeking victim’s financial data, holding a computer for ransom, or taking it over in order to rent it out for malicious purposes to others. Without exception, every type of Malware involves some form of payment to the cybercriminal.
There are plenty of ways we can “adopt” Malware on our computers or mobile devices. Some of them include opening the attachment of the “infected” person, clicking on the link which automatically downloads a virus, or even clicking on an ad banner on a website.
He loves me; he loves me NOT.
It’s hard to talk about Malware without mentioning the ILOVEYOU virus, which caused immense damage in 2009. Considered as the most destructive virus of all time, the ILOVEYOU virus used to rename all files in the affected device with “Iloveyou” until the system crashed. Fast-forward to the present day; there’s an increased number of hackers using destructive Malware (Between 2017 and 2018, there was a total increase of 25 percent only) for malicious acts.
Is there a reason to be afraid?
For the ones wondering if they should be afraid of Malware, the answer is a loud: YES! Technology advanced so much that we’re basically carrying small computers in our pockets – in fact, more and more cyber attacks are connected to mobile devices. What’s more, it’s so easy to lose all our important data: text messages, apps we download and failing to update our OS is all the ways we become prone to cyber-attacks. It’s scary and devastating to know someone could ruin our reputation and finances with one single click.
Knowledge is the key.
Now when we have a clear picture of what Malware is, we should get familiar with different types of it. Then, armed with knowledge, we will be able to protect ourselves and our data from malicious cyber intruders. There are six types of malware: spyware, adware, scareware, ransomware, worms, and trojans. Now, we’re going to go through them and offer you a complete overview.
Spyware is not here to harm our computers but follow our every move instead. It attaches itself to executable files and once it is downloaded it completely takes over the control. It can track anything from passwords to financial data.
Adware presents itself in a form of pop-ads or unclosable windows. Luckily, adware doesn’t steal our data, but it tries to make us click on fraudulent ads. Furthermore, it can slow down our computer severely by taking our bandwidth.
Scareware looks and feels like adware, but its main goal is to make us buy software we don’t need by scaring us. Usually, scareware ads tell us our computer has a virus and we need to buy software to get rid of it.
Ransomware resembles hacker moves we’re used to seeing in the movies. Once is on our computer it encrypts our files and holds our information hostage until we pay them a fee to decrypt it.
Worms resemble viruses, however, they don’t need human intervention to get transmitted to another computer. Instead, they use security flaws to do it.
Trojans are designed to allow hackers to take over our computers. Usually, they are downloaded from rogue websites.
We should learn how to protect ourselves.
Now when we know what are the types of malware out there, we will know how to recognize it and protect our precious data and valuable info from cybercriminals. To avoid malware, we should make sure we’re not downloading and running any program from popup windows. Furthermore, we should check our OS is updated and be careful not to open any email attachments from unknown people. Other ways include avoiding the use of public WiFi networks, sharing data while connected on public WiFi and avoid opening emails and attachments from untrusted sources.