What is malware
Malware, sometimes known as “malicious software,” is a catch-all word for any malicious program or code that is destructive to computers.
Malware is hostile, intrusive, and purposefully malicious software that aims to infiltrate, damage, or disable computers, computer systems, networks, tablets, and mobile devices by gaining partial control over their activities. It interferes with regular functioning in the same way that the human flu does.
Malware has a variety of motivations. Malware can steal, encrypt, or delete your data, change or hijack basic computer functions, and spy on your computer activity without your permission.
How can I tell if I have a malware infection?
Malware can reveal itself with many different unusual behaviors. Here are a few telltale signs that you have malware on your system:
- The performance of your PC has slowed. One of the malware’s adverse effects is that it slows down your operating system (OS). Whether you’re surfing the web or just using your local apps, your system’s resource utilization appears abnormally high. Your computer’s fan may even be spinning at full speed, indicating that something is consuming system resources in the background. This usually occurs when your computer has been hijacked by a botnet, which is a collection of enslaved machines used to launch DDoS assaults, send spam, or mine bitcoin.
- Your screen is clogged with obnoxious advertisements. Pop-up adverts that appear out of nowhere are common symptoms of malware infection. They’re particularly linked to a type of malware known as adware. Furthermore, pop-ups are frequently bundled with additional malicious threats.
- Our system has failed. This can manifest as a freeze or a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), the latter of which occurs when a fatal error occurs on a Windows system.
- You don’t have access to your files or your machine as a whole. This is a sign that you’ve been infected with ransomware. The hackers will leave a ransom note on your computer or change your desktop wallpaper to a ransom note (see GandCrab). In most cases, thieves will inform you that your data has been encrypted and demand a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption of your files in the memo.
What are the most common forms of malware?
- Adware is unwanted software that displays advertising on your screen, usually through a web browser. To trick you into installing it on your computer, tablet, or mobile device, it frequently masquerades as a legitimate program or piggybacks on another program.
- Spyware is malware that secretly observes the computer user’s activities without permission and reports it to the software’s author.
- A Trojan, often known as a Trojan horse, is one of the most destructive types of malware. It frequently poses as something helpful in order to deceive you. The perpetrators behind the Trojan obtain illegal access to the affected computer once it has been installed on your system.
- Ransomware is a form of malware that locks you out of your device and/or encrypts your files, then forces you to pay a ransom to regain access. Ransomware has been called the cybercriminal’s weapon of choice because it demands a quick, profitable payment in hard-to-trace cryptocurrency. The code behind ransomware is easy to obtain through online criminal marketplaces and defending against it is very difficult.
- A keylogger is malware that records all of the user’s keystrokes on the keyboard and sends the information to the attacker, who is looking for sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers.
How to protect against malware
Here are our malware-prevention suggestions, in no particular sequence:
- Use multi-factor authentication with secure passwords. A password manager can be really useful in this situation.
- When browsing the Internet, avoid clicking on pop-up adverts.
- Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know.
- Don’t click on weird, untrustworthy links in emails, texts, or social media communications.
- Avoid downloading software from dubious websites or peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.