Malware, short for malicious software, is software designed to harm your computer or steal your information. Malware can infect your devices in a variety of different ways for a variety of different reasons. There are many types of malware on the Internet, but we will mainly look at six of those.
Here are some different types of malware and some helpful tips you can use to recognize them and better understand the malware definition.
Computer viruses, just like real-life viruses, have a knack for spreading. They work by sneaking onto your device and infecting a program or file on your device. Then, they travel from device to device, using shared networks, files, and documents as highways.
The danger in viruses is that they can corrupt files and even cause whole systems to crash. Viruses can do many things once they've infected your computer. For example, the virus might have design to collect your personal information held in your files.
Viruses can be very difficult to eliminate as they infect many files on a computer. For example, you can delete an infected file without getting rid of the virus as it may have already infected many other files on your device.
A worm is like a virus on steroids. Viruses require some sort of user action, either downloading a file or opening an email, while worms require no such action. Worms can infect files and systems without any user actions - they let the files and programs spread the malware themselves. Thus, a single action by one user (downloading an attachment) can cause a super-spreading event, causing compromised whole networks or systems in a matter of minutes.
A Trojan is a type of malware that infects your device by tricking you into downloading something. Were often warned not to download unknown files or open emails from unknown senders - this is to avoid Trojans.
Essentially trojans, like the Trojan Horse, show themselves as legitimate. For example, a Trojan might be an email instructing a user to update his or her anti-virus software. So, if the user clicks the download button, it's too late and their system will become infected.
Trojans are capable of stealing information you provide online, including your passwords and credit card information.
Spyware is a type of malware that allows hackers to see what you're doing on your device, or to see what is happening on your system. This makes it quite easy for hackers to steal your personal information, such as passwords, credit card information, and intellectual property. Additionally, this spyware obviously used to spy on your browsing activities - exactly which sites you're visiting and when.
Ransomware encrypts all of the files on a system or network, then requires a ransom to "open" to files again. This is typically done against large organizations, such as city or state governments. Hackers ensuring retrieval of the ransom by threatening to permanently delete all of the files if ransom not received.
Ransomware is one of the most costly forms of malware as organizations typically cannot afford NOT to pay the ransom, as the files can be crucial for the proper functioning of the organization. Also, paying the ransom does not ensure that the files will be unencrypted - hackers are criminal by nature, and they still may decide to delete the files anyway.
6. Hybrid Malware
The hybrid malware attack can include methods from more than one type of malware. For example, a piece of malware can be a trojan, a traditional virus, and a worm all at the same time.
Because hybrids are made up of different types of malware, they can be especially difficult to ward off.
So How Can You Protect Yourself Against Various Types of Malware?
So are we all doomed, and constantly susceptible to malware attacks? Not exactly. Software companies are always fighting hackers and coming up with solutions against malware. You can take the following actions to protect yourself.
- Update your operating system and other software regularly. Software and system updates usually contain security patches to better protect your device from attack.
- Use antivirus software to run a malware scan. Antivirus software finds and removes malicious code, including viruses. Antivirus software can help prevent future attacks offering the ultimate in malware protection.
- MalwareBytes and other anti malware removal tools will remove malware and provide a layer of protection for computer systems.
- Avoid free Wi-Fi if you can. If you can't avoid free wifi, consider using a VPN to protect your connection and encrypt your network traffic.
- Think before you click. If an email prompts you to open something or download something, contact whoever sent you the email and ask them what it is first.
- Browse safely. Stick with reputable websites and avoid unknown sites or pages.
- Use a password manager. This helps create strong passwords, and stores them all in one place.
- Do not insert a USB drive from an unknown source into your computer. The devices may contain legitimate software, but they may include a computer program that could bypass your security software and load up your device with malware viruses.
Be smart! Now that you know what malware includes and how it can impact your system or device, be more cautious what you click and what you install.