What Is Malware And How to Stay Away from It?
Many people may have heard of terms like viruses, trojan, and ransomware, but they do not know what they mean. These terms refer to malicious software that compromises and infect devices and computers.
Malware is short for malicious software, and it has quickly become the fastest-growing threat online. It has been used for several large-scale cyber-attacks, take, for example, the WannaCry attack from 2017, which resulted in 200,000 victims from 150 countries.
Malware makes its way on a computer or device after the user clicks on a malicious link, downloads untrustworthy attachments, or executes a rogue program. Once malware is installed, cybercriminals can use it to carry out a variety of activities, like monitoring your online activities, stealing private and confidential information, or using your device or computer to compromise other systems.
This type of attack has proven to be profitable. It has become more sophisticated, with cybercriminals combining the old with the new to create hybrid malware programs to cause tremendous damage.
There are a ton of different types of malware, some more destructive than others. To put things into perspective, 230,000 new malware are created daily, and each of them has its own attributes. The most common type of malware are as follows:
Spyware is a type of malware that installs itself secretly, and it monitors a victim’s online activities. It collects data like browsing activity, credit card numbers, and passwords.
Adware can be downloaded unknowingly, and it results in advertisements on a victim’s device or computer. Adware does not involve data theft like other types of malware, but it can become frustrating to deal with—the resulting ads from adware range from banner ads to pop-up windows that cannot be removed.
Recently, ransomware has become quite popular and is expected to cause damages worth billions by the end of this year. Ransomware encrypts data, blocking access for the victim until they pay a ransom.
Trojan dresses as legitimate software, but it is quite the opposite. A Trojan can be in the form a game, free update, or even an anti-virus program. Once a Trojan has been installed, it works behind the scenes to carry out harmful actions, create a backdoor, or steam sensitive information.
This type of malicious software will replicate itself from folder to folder, injecting its code along the way once it has been activated. Viruses spread rapidly, usually relied upon to steal personal and confidential information or even locate systems down.
Bots are devices that have been infected using malicious software to do something harmful without the user knowing about it. Botnets form networks of infected devices, working together for a hacker in control. Botnets can be used to carry out DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, send spam, or conduct phishing campaigns.
A worm is more or less like a virus, but it does not spread to other programs. Once it is installed, it infects machines silently. It is highly unlikely a user would be able to find out a worm that has infected their device. Worms can replicate themselves repeatedly, which decreases system resources, and can even damage devices.
How to Stay Away from Malware?
Considering how dangerous malware can be, you must take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the different kinds of malware. To aid you in your cause, here are a couple of ways you can protect yourself from malware:
Install an Anti-virus Program
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from malware involves installing an anti-virus program. Anti-virus programs will protect your device or computer from malicious software. It will scan your device or computer to detect and clean malware if any. Additionally, it will update itself regularly to stay effective against new viruses.
Update Software Programs
Apart from installing an anti-virus program, you need to ensure your software programs are up-to-date to prevent attackers from gaining access to your device or computer through vulnerabilities commonly found in outdated and older systems.
Buy Apps from Reliable Sources
You can reduce the chances of your device or computer being infected by doing something as simple as buying apps from reliable sources. Top brands will go out of their way to ensure their reputation does not take a hit by distributing malware. To verify a source, check its full name, contact details in the app description, and list of other apps published on the Play Store or App Store.
Stay Clear of Suspicious Sources
Phishing is the most effective way for hackers to install malware on devices and computers. Phishing scams trick people into clicking on links and opening emails that may come from a reputable source or legitimate business. You may be redirected to fake websites, where you will be asked to enter your credentials. Or, you may be taken to a website that infects your device or computer with malware.
Install a Firewall
You can protect your device or computer from malware by installing a firewall. A firewall blocks unauthorized access, which in turn prevents malicious attacks. By using a firewall along with an anti-virus program, you will be reducing the chances of malware attacks by leaps and bounds.
Back up your Data
It would be best to back up your data more often than not if you need to retrieve your private and confidential information after a malware attack. This way, you will not be held victim to a ransomware attack.
Use a Trustworthy VPN
By using a trustworthy VPN, you can increase your online safety and security like never before. A useful VPN allows you to connect to a VPN server, masking your original IP address with a new one. Furthermore, such a VPN will come with advanced security features that will ensure you never have to worry about cyber threats of any kind ever again, such as:
- Internet Kill Switch
- IPv6 Leak Protection
- Military Grade Encryption
- Secure DNS
- Public Wi-Fi Security and more
Speaking of a trustworthy VPN, if you need such a VPN to bolster your online security and privacy, you need not look further than Ivacy VPN.
Ivacy VPN comes with all the necessary features that protect you from all kinds of cyber threats and not just malware. Interestingly, Ivacy VPN can also be used to access geo-restricted content, overcome ISP throttling, and much more!
Now that you know what malware is and how you can stay away from it, make the most of this information. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself from malware before it is too late, and consider using a VPN to take your privacy and security to new heights.