The Persistent Threat of Malware
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  • The Persistent Threat of Malware

    July 13, 2022

    One of the most common and serious cyber-attack threats from a business point of view is malware. In its purest form, malware is a link or item that might appear to the victim as a curious-looking pop-up screen within an internet browser or as an inconspicuous attachment within an email. These are designed to mislead the user into thinking the item is genuine, and once the user has been fooled and clicks on it the hacker can quickly gain access to their network to either seize data or damage the network itself in some way. It is not a particularly new form of cyber attack, but it remains dangerously effective.

    You can protect yourself by learning what malware is, how it spreads, and how to prevent it.

    What's malware?

    "Malware" is any kind of software that's designed to harm a computer. Malware can steal sensitive information from your computer, gradually slow down your computer, or even send fake emails from your email account without your knowledge. Here are some common types of malware you might have heard about:

    • Virus: A harmful computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer.
    • Worm: A malicious computer program that sends copies of itself to other computers via a network.
    • Spyware: Malware that collects information from people without their knowledge.
    • Adware: Software that automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements on a computer.
    • Trojan horse: A destructive program that pretends to be a useful application but harms your computer or steals your information after it's installed.

    How malware spreads

    Malware can get onto your computer in a number of different ways. Here are some common examples:

    • Downloading free software from the Internet that secretly contains malware
    • Downloading legitimate software that's secretly bundled with malware
    • Visiting a website that's infected with malware
    • Clicking a fake error message or pop-up window that starts a malware download
    • Opening an email attachment that contains malware

    There are a lot of different ways that malware can spread, but that doesn't mean you're powerless to stop it. Now that you know what malware is and what it can do, let's go over some practical steps you can take to protect yourself.

    How to prevent malware

    • Keep your computer and software updated
    • Use a non-administrator account whenever possible
    • Think twice before clicking links or downloading anything
    • Be careful about opening email attachments or images
    • Don't trust pop-up windows that ask you to download software
    • Limit your file-sharing
    • Use antivirus software

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