The common thread between different cyber attacks, data branches, and security lapses in our PCs and other devices is malware. Malware attacks are becoming increasingly familiar with every passing day, leading to severe losses for top organizations and PC users.
Ramping up security solutions for our PCs has become absolutely imperative, as it is the best and only way to deal with potential threats to our computers and the data we value so highly. With reliable malware removal tools like antivirus software, protecting sensitive information, preventing huge monetary losses, and maintaining the stakeholders’ trust are much easier.
When you protect your PC from malware, you ensure efficiency, increase productivity, keep private data safe for you, your customers, and your partners, and generally give yourself a big break from stress.
Let’s have a look at some different aspects of malware attacks and what you need to do to prevent them:
What is Malware?
Malware is a type of software that infects computers, operating systems, browsers, or computer networks. The whole purpose of malware is to encrypt, steal, or delete sensitive information. Malware can also hijack or alter core system functions. These suspicious software elements snoop on users’ browsing history and other private information.
When the user’s PC is hacked, the hackers may seek ransom in exchange for locked files or confidential data in their custody. This is known as ransomware. Apart from serious crimes like extortion, malware can also introduce spam or forced advertisements on your PC.
How Does Malware Spread?
The typical sources of malware are fake internet ads, email attachments, suspicious links, infected apps or websites, and even hardware, such as pen drives. Users are often lured into clicking on links and opening attachments with fancy messages or subjects such as gifts, lotteries, or job offers. When users fall for the clickbait, the malware is instantly installed on the users’ PC.
Signs That Your PC is Infected With Malware
Some of the typical signs that your PC is infected with malware are:
- Slow performance of the system, frequent crashes, or frozen system functionality.
- Unwanted and unnecessary spam and pop-ups.
- Hijacking of the frequently used browser.
- Unknown icons on the desktop and suspicious file extensions.
- Creation of new files and folders without consent.
- Overheated and noisy devices.
- Redirection of popular websites to random, unknown websites.
Types of Malware
There are different types of malware that we need to be aware of. Let’s take a look at them:
Also known as a trapdoor, this malware gives cybercriminals access to your PC without your knowledge. This type of malware can remain dormant in the system for years without the user noticing.
Once adware enters your system, you’ll have a flood of advertisements on your PC. Hackers usually use these advertisements to generate revenue for the creator or third party. Additionally, adware is usually used in conjunction with spyware, as it helps the hacker spy on the user’s browsing history.
Ransomware hackers withhold confidential user data and important files and even lock user files until the user pays a specified ransom.
Rogueware gives users a fake warning, making them believe that their device is infected. However, once they click on the fake warning, the malware is instantly installed on the PC.
This malware is designed to spy on users’ private data, such as browsing history, passwords, emails, and files. Once it gets installed on your computer, it can log keystrokes and extract super-sensitive information from your machine.
Trojan horse is malware that imitates legitimate software, deceiving users into installing other malware. Almost always, users remain unaware they have installed the Trojan horse on their PCs.
Worms and Viruses
These two examples are the most common types of malware and can be transmitted from different sources to your PC. The only difference between worms and viruses is that the former doesn’t require a host program to replicate, whereas the latter requires another program to replicate itself.
What are the 3 Main Ways to Protect Against Malware?
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely prevent malware attacks on your PC, but there are several ways to secure your devices from malware. Apart from installing a good quality, reliable antivirus program, here are the top three ways to protect against malware:
Control Access to Systems
Securing networks against malware is essential. You need to regulate the access control to your systems to protect networks against data breaches. You can install or implement a firewall, IPS (Intrusion Prevention System), and IDS (Intrusion Detection System). Closing unused ports, disabling unused protocols, and not using unfamiliar remote drives or media are also recommended for protection.
Regularly checking and removing deactivated user accounts is important as well. And yes, before installing any new software, it is advisable to read the licensing agreements thoroughly.
Implement Email Security and Spam Protection
Emails are one of the most commonly used tools for business communication. Unfortunately, they also happen to be one of the most common malware channels. It is important to reduce the risk of malware infection through emails, and there are different ways to do this.
Scanning all incoming messages, including attachments and links for malware, is key. You can also set spam filters to reduce unwanted spam emails in your inbox. You can limit user access to only company-approved messages, emails, links, and email addresses.
Educating users is just as essential, as users are the ones who get tricked and fall prey to such emails. Building awareness among users and keeping them updated about the latest cyber attacks is essential to ongoing security success.
Training employees about recent cybersecurity trends and recognizing the difference between fake and credible sites is important. Encourage users to use secure networks and VPNs when working inside and outside office premises.
Update Software Regularly
It is impossible to find software that is fool-proof from malware. Despite this, protecting your software from different types of malware is important. The only way to do this is to update software systems frequently.
Software vendors provide patches and updates that help software deal with new types of malware and other threats more effectively. It is essential to regularly update different software tools and applications, operating systems, browsers, and plug-ins. In addition, routine maintenance checks for all software in your organization are important for spotting signs of malware and suspicious activities in log reports.
We’ve listed the top three ways to keep your PC malware-free. Some other ways you can secure your PCs are using secure authentication methods, using administrator accounts only when required, and limiting control to access systems. You can also limit application privileges, stick to the least privilege model, and consistently monitor suspicious activity.
Protecting your network, your accounts, your data, and your privacy, is no small thing. Data theft and corruption lead to huge losses for companies all around the world every year. Cybercrime destroys company reputations, brand value, customer loyalty, and vital partnerships.
Consider using a private network (VPN). Be wary of using any public Wi-Fi networks. Avoid pop-up windows. Perform software updates. Work with your IT professionals to perform needed security fixes and security updates. Implement the newest antivirus protections.
Avoid using common passwords and make sure all online accounts and personal devices like your phone, have rock-solid password combinations. Be careful who you give your email address to since corrupted emails can include malicious software, viruses, and attempts at your credit card information. Only enter social security number information on high-security, trusted sites from prominent companies.
Check your privacy settings and make sure any USB sticks you use come from a trusted and vetted source. Perform regular scans to ensure virus protection. Utilize multiple storage and backup options. Read the latest protection tips and use multi-factor authentication, pop-up blockers and trusted internet browsers.
Finally, never hesitate to add another layer of security or advanced layer of protection to your organization. Use password managers to keep your passwords organized and safe. Do all you can to maximize your data security with the latest tools, trusted programs and professional IT support.
Tech Masters is your trusted data security partner. We help organizations achieve greater success and safety with cutting-edge technology, individually tailored IT management, and ongoing advice. Connect with us today to learn more and to claim your free business IT assessment.
To learn more about malware and data security, check out our frequently asked questions and answers below.
How can you safely store data?
Keeping confidential and important data safe is important for all users and organizations. To safely and securely store data, you need to enable full disk encryption on all devices. Confidential data needs to be restricted only to authorized spaces and persons. Encrypting backups is critical, as they can also be a source of data leaks. Important passwords must be archived to keep your data safe and sound.
Make use of multiple storage types to maximize your protection. Consider using an external drive, additional machines, and certainly, the backup services provided by a cloud backup solution.
Partnering with a trusted cloud provider is important to your success. This will allow you to automate backups for near-instant restoration following theft or disaster, and enable you to take advantage of the advanced security features cloud providers offer.
How do I protect my email from malware?
The first step is to create a long, unique, and strong password. Your password needs to be a combination of special characters, letters, and numbers. It shouldn’t be something that hackers can easily guess.
You may have several passwords to remember, so you can always keep a tab of all the passwords by using a password manager. This is a better and more secure way to store and save your passwords rather than save them on the web.
Turn-on two-step verification, which is available on popular email services such as Gmail and Outlook. Updating your antivirus and browser regularly often is important. Make sure your security settings are exactly where they need to be, both on your PC and your mobile device, as mobile devices and tablets are just as vulnerable to many threats.
Apart from this, users need to be careful about suspicious email attachments, links, or buttons. Opening attachments from emails from unknown senders can install malicious files and malware instantly on PCs, making it easy for hackers to access your PC and other confidential data.
What provides the best protection against malware?
Investing in a reliable and effective malware removal tool like an excellent antivirus software (security software) with malware defenses and a rich security suite full of tools, is a great way to protect your PC and other devices from malware. A varied security suite can provide you will tools that make all the difference in your security strategy.
It is important to update your antivirus programs frequently. This ensures they are adept enough to tackle even the most recent malware attacks effectively. Check to see if automatic updates are functioning on your software programs as well to help you stay protected against security flaws.
Apart from updating your antivirus and security software, it is essential to update your browser and operating system, as updated versions of both can help protect your PC from all types of malware. Also, be careful of using Wi-Fi networks that aren’t protected, especially those in public spaces.
With these and some other common security practices, it is easy to keep your PC and all your data in it safe from malware and hackers alike.
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