Malware stands for Malicious Software, and it is harmful software infecting a legitimate user’s computer, and network or system of an organisation.
Computer users and organisations need to understand this threat and know how to protect themselves from it. In this guide, we are going to cover some of the fundamentals of malware and malware types.
- 1 What Is Malware?
- 2 What Are Malware Types?
- 3 How to Detect Malware in Your System?
- 4 How to Detect If Your Computer is Infected with Malware?
- 5 How to Protect Yourself Against Malware?
What Is Malware?
Malware is harmful software that gains access to your computer systems and performs actions without your consent. In general, these actions allow hackers to gain full access to your data, devices, and systems.
During the early years, the malware appeared as a form of cyber-vandalism. They used to be used for changing the background image of the screen or accessing the personal information of the system users.
These methods, which have been adopted by cybercriminals since the first days, evolved into something new and dangerous. Today, some of the main purposes of using malware include storing valuable business data and personal data for ransom, stealing IDs to gain access to bank accounts, or stealing confidential information from organisations.
What Are Malware Types?
Malware does not refer to a single type of software. It has different types, and you need to adopt different methods to prevent each of them. Thus, we have compiled some of the most common types of malware for you in the following.
Besides finding information about these types, you will also learn how to recognize them.
Ransomware locks your files, and you need to pay ransom to hackers to unlock and regain access to your files. When ransomware infects your computer, it may start deleting your files. Later on, hackers will contact you to request a ransom to give your files back.
One of the most common ways ransomware can infect your computer is through phishing. Phishing uses email as a kind of weapon and conceals itself as a legitimate email. It tricks the email owner to click on the email or attachment. This type of ransomware is the most common one and is developing rapidly.
Trojan is another malware. This malware conceals itself as a trusted software or application to infect your computer or system. It will not take action immediately but establish itself to initiate an attack later.
Worms are a type of malware that uses a computer network to replicate and spread themselves. They are self-replicating malware. Unlike the regular viruses, they do not require additional human action to quickly spread in your computer and entire network.
In general, worms often infect a computer through a vulnerability or weakness.
Bot is a type of malware that runs as an automated computer program and can be controlled by one or more external sources. Bots infect computers through chat or similar web-based programs and are used to gather information.
Cybercriminals usually gain unauthorized access to a computer by using a virus or other malware to start a bot or botnet attack.
Rootkit is a malware type designed to remotely access or control a computer without being undetected by users or security software programs. Cyber attackers can run the files, steal data, change configurations or software and even install more malware by using the rootkits.
Rootkits can be included in software applications, and they can infect your computer with phishing attacks or benefiting from a vulnerability. Getting rid of rootkits is highly challenging and it is very important to prevent these attacks.
Spyware is a malware type that spies on user activities including browser history and data collection. In general, they have a variety of additional capabilities from changing your security settings to interfering with network connections.
A spyware infects computers through a virus or trojan and bundles itself with reliable programs.
Similar to the spread of viruses in humans, a computer virus attaches itself to a program or application to be activated. They are malware that can spread from computer to computer or over the entire network.
Once it attaches to a program, the virus will run whenever the user opens or runs that program. It can infect other programs or documents too.
Adware is relatively less dangerous compared to other malware on this list. This is malware that attempts to expose the end-user to unwanted, potentially malicious advertisements.
In general, adware redirects the search queries of the user to similar web pages containing other product promotions.
Scareware is a malware type that tricks users into buying useless or malicious software. It can be in the form of fake virus alerts, fake software updates, or fake malware removal tools.
Man in the Middle (MitM)
A hacker can initiate a man-in-the-middle attack when he intervenes in the communication between a client and server.
Logic bombs are a malware type that is added to an application and triggered by a logical condition such as a specific date or time.
Trap Doors are a malware type that helps hackers to bypass regular authentication methods. This is why they are known as backdoors.
Man in the Mobile (MitMo)
Man in the Mobile is another malware type that allows hackers to bypass password verification systems that send codes via SMS to users’ phones for identity verification. This malware type only targets mobile devices.
How to Detect Malware in Your System?
Since cybercriminals are constantly trying to find weaknesses and vulnerabilities to exploit, new threats appear on the web every day. It is very important to have the latest version of the software you are using to deal with this and ensure your safety.
However, no matter how careful you will be, these cyber attacks always go beyond your personal efforts. Some of the common reasons why malware infects your computer or system include:
- Your antivirus software is out of date, and you click on a link by mistake and activate a virus.
- Someone else uses your computer or system and accidentally downloaded some malware.
How to Detect If Your Computer is Infected with Malware?
Although most of the time you may need professional support, you can look for some indicators to learn more about an infected computer. Here are some of these indicators to look for:
If Your Computer is Running Very Slowly
If your computer is running very slowly, then it can be a sign of a malware infection. When a virus, worm, or trojan infects your computer, they can cause your system to run slower than usual by running tasks that consume a lot of resources in the background.
If you are not running applications that consume resources, but your computer is still running very slowly, it is an indicator of an infected computer.
If Your Computer is not Working Properly
This is another indicator that there is a problem with your computer. Most malware affects your important files that prevent your computer from working properly. This may lead your computer to crash.
If your computer often crashes or warns you about data corruption when you try to open or run a particular application, this means that a malware infected your computer.
If Your Antivirus or Firewall Protection Disabled Unexpectedly
This is another common indicator that your computer infected. If all your security components such as antivirus and firewall disabled automatically without your permission, this is likely because malware disabled them.
Therefore, you need to constantly check that your antivirus is running for full protection.
If You Receive Unfamiliar and Strange Error Messages
If you are constantly getting error messages stating that your programs will not work or your files will not open, this can be another indicator of infection. There are also some of the other possible indicators that there is a problem with your computer.
Some of these are strange messages showing that you cannot access certain drivers on your computer. Moreover, hardware such as USB keys and printers not responding to commands.
How to Protect Yourself Against Malware?
There are many precautions you can take to protect yourself, your computer, and your system against malware. Below, you can find some of these:
Install an Antivirus Software
Antivirus protection is the first security measure you should have to keep your computer free of viruses. Using advanced antivirus programs that constantly keep an eye on your system will protect against common malware and other security risks.
You can prevent many leaks before they happen by using the best antivirus programs.
Keep Your Antivirus Software Up to Date
Installing an antivirus is the first and most important step. However, you also need to keep it up to date to maintain this protection at the highest level.
Install All Security Updates and Patches
Make sure that you install updates and security patches as soon as possible to protect your computer and system against malware and other security risks.
This is especially important for popular and widely used programs such as QuickTime, Adobe, and Java. If possible, you can turn on the automatic software updates. In the same way, you also need to update your operating system.
Avoid Suspicious Links and Emails
When you receive a spam or suspicious-looking link or email, you need to avoid opening it. Such emails are usually phishing emails aimed at getting users to download malware.
Avoid Suspicious Websites
Read the URL carefully to make sure that the website you are visiting is real. You can also check if the site is using HTTPS. If you notice anything unusual, be careful and avoid sharing sensitive data.
Carefully Review Software Before Downloading
Make sure that you check the program and reviews to ensure the legality of anything before installing anything new on a computer or device. This is true for both paid and trial versions of software.
Use Strong Passwords
Use a strong and unique password for each of your accounts. If systems allow you to use two-factor authentication to further secure access to your accounts, activate them.
Turn On Your Firewall
Your firewall includes a set of rules that determine the data that can access your computer. This is why make sure that it is configured correctly and is always on.
If you need further assistance for your computers or the systems of your organisation, MS Cyber Security can help you. You can contact us at any time whenever you want for information and receive a free quote.