Keeping your devices safe is extremely important. There are many different methods of cybercrime that hackers can use to manipulate you and gain access to your devices. One of these methods involves using malicious software, more commonly known as malware.
Malicious software is used to break into your devices. However, they can also be used in several ways to harm you and your devices. Understanding the different forms of malicious software and how to keep your devices safe from them is key to overcoming cyberattacks.
It is not just enough to understand them though, as some malicious software can be downloaded onto your device in the background. Moreover, they can even live on your device undetected, lying dormant until they are activated. If you do not have the correct cybersecurity measures in place, they could cause you a lot of headaches.
What is Malicious Software?
Malicious software, or malware for short, is a form of software that can be installed on any device from computers to smartphones and tablets. It is one of several methods that hackers can use to launch cyberattacks.
There are many different types of malware, and new ones are developed daily. Older, more common forms of malware are also tweaked and improved regularly to increase the chances of a successful cyberattack. This makes it extremely difficult to keep up with the latest trends.
Cybersecurity companies are working around the clock to try and stay a step ahead of any new malware that surfaces. However, this is extremely challenging, and in the majority of cases, these companies need to react quickly to new malware once it has been identified to be able to protect their customers; devices from being compromised.
Below are some of the major types of malware that you need to look out for. Each one has unique features that pose a danger to you and your devices. You must be able to understand what each one does to comprehend which parts of your operating system, app or accounts may be at risk.
Viruses can frequently be found on many devices. This is because they can spread from one device to another, much like biological viruses. However, computer viruses do not exist naturally, instead, they are designed by cyber criminals who have the intention of destroying files or devices.
There is a variety of different viruses to be found. Each one is unique and serves a different purpose, based on what it has been programmed to do. Some might be programmed to destroy a device, whereas others are designed to target specific files, such as important business documents for example.
In some cases, viruses are designed to lie dormant within your device and only be activated when a specific command is given. For example, a virus might only activate once you restart your computer or open a specific type of document.
Spyware is a dangerous form of malware that can breach your privacy as well as your security. Spyware can be used to gather data about you such as the websites you visit. This means that the cybercriminal will be able to watch everything you do on your device.
Furthermore, they can also sometimes even control your devices remotely. You don’t even need to be close to your device for them to do so. This will allow them to snoop through your files, data, and accounts.
Spyware is dangerous because it will give the hacker full control over your device, even if they’re not close to it. They can also discover your login credentials or sensitive information simply by watching your screen.
Ransomware is the most dangerous form of malware that you need to be aware of. Ransomware can encrypt certain files or accounts. The encryption won’t be removed until you pay a ransom fee to the hacker.
This malware is frustrating because they usually target important files that you need to use. This can include anything from documents that you need for work, bank statements or even personal files such as identification documents.
The ransom fees are usually extremely high as well, which makes it even more difficult. Hackers will not release your files back to you unless you meet their ransom demands. There is also no way to move, open, or transfer the files to another device once they have been encrypted with ransomware. Ransomware and phishing together have caused trillions of dollars of damage as well as endangering lives
How Can Malicious Software Make Its Way Onto Your Device?
Cybercriminals have different tactics to get their malware onto your device for a cyberattack. If you know how they can get their malicious software on their device you will have a better understanding of how you can identify and avoid it.
The most common way that malware can be downloaded is through fraudulent links online. Clicking on the wrong link can prompt malicious software to be installed on your device. Remember that links can also be disguised as icons, images or adverts.
You may also find malicious software in phishing scams. These scams involve sending fake emails that will require the victim to interact with them. There will either be a link or an attachment in the email that could install the malware on your device once you have clicked on it.
How Can You Keep Your Devices Safe From Malicious Software?
Due to the fact that malicious software can be installed on your device in the background, it is impossible to rely on your knowledge and awareness alone to spot malicious software being downloaded on your device. You must use cybersecurity tools, designed by specialists to keep your devices secure.
The most important cybersecurity measure to have on your device is antivirus software. Make sure that you have premium, verified antivirus software with real-time background scanning features. Antivirus software will constantly scan your device for any malicious software that has been installed on your device. It can also take the necessary steps to remove it from your device.
Even if your device is kept secure with an antivirus program, you must still avoid clicking on suspicious links while you’re browsing online. Never open emails from unknown senders or access websites that do not have HTTPS enabled in your web browser’s address (URL) bar. Prevention is the best protection, but if you do happen to get caught out, the antivirus will be there to keep your device protected.