what is malware

What is Malware? Malware or malicious software can damage your system (sometimes beyond repair) and access your sensitive data, or even encrypt it. Suffice to say this type of attack never ends well for the user. The overall number of new malware detections found worldwide as of March 2020 was 677.66 million programs, up from 661 million at the end of January 2020. By 2020, AV-TEST predicts that there will be more than 700 million new malware samples.

So, let’s have a look at what malware is and its significant types that spoil the working of your system.

What Is Malware?

Malware is a type of software that can cause damage to your computer system. Malicious software can take over your computer, access your private information, or damage your files and data.

Malware can be malicious, meaning that it has bad intentions and tries to harm you. Malicious software is usually designed to steal personal information, collect your passwords, or even destroy your computer.

Malware can also be unintentional, meaning that it was created by a developer or company who did not intend for the malware to contain any harmful features. Unintentional malware often consists of poorly written code that allows hackers to gain access to a user’s information or device.

What Can Malware Do?

Malware can cause problems like:

  • Locking up your computer.
  • Hiding your files which makes it hard for you to access your important files.
  • Changing the settings on your computer.
  • Downloading viruses, spyware, and other malware onto your PC.
  • Accessing your computer without your knowledge
  • Stealing data from your hard drive
  • Hijacking your browser or web-based applications
  • Taking over your computer to spy on others using it

Types of Malware

The most common types of malware have been discussed below:

  • Viruses are the most common type of malware, characterized by the ability to replicate and spread themselves to other systems. A virus can spread through email attachments, peer-to-peer file sharing, and other means.
  • Trojans are malicious software that spread through a network. They imitate legitimate programs (such as browsers) and trick users into running them by displaying fake security warnings or pop-ups.
  • Spyware is software that secretly collects information about users’ activities and behaviors on their computers and sends this data back to its developer. Spyware can include adware, which displays ads on web pages when accessed, and scareware, which displays fake alerts similar to those found in antivirus software, trying to trick users into buying more security software.
  • Ransomware is malware that encrypts your files and then demands payment to unlock them. The threat spreads through email attachments and infected websites. Cybercriminals have increasingly used ransomware to extort money from unsuspecting victims. Ranomware can also operate as a managed service popularly termed Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS).
  • Adware is advertising software that inserts advertisements into web pages viewed by you or any other person who visits your computer. These ads may be served without your consent or knowledge and are often collected without your knowledge. Adware might also track your browsing behavior online (such as site visits or keywords searched for), which can then be shared with third parties without your knowledge or consent.
  • Scareware is also known as fake antivirus or fake security software. It aims to trick you into thinking your computer has been infected with malware when it has not. Scareware typically pretends to be from a legitimate security organization such as AVG or Norton, even though these companies do not distribute such programs on the Internet nor provide support.

How Does Malware Spread?

Following a malicious attachment or link opening, malware can spread and infect devices and networks. Malicious software can sometimes be found on USB drives. Code in email attachments may direct your machine to download more malware from the internet.

How To Protect Yourself Against Malware?

There are ways to protect yourself from malware, but it takes a little effort.

  • Know the Basics of Email Security

Knowing the basics of email security and what to look for when picking an email server or provider is essential because attacks are getting more sophisticated and challenging to defend against.

The following three elements form the basis for email security:

  • The route an email takes to reach your inbox is called the envelope.
  • Information about the sender, destination, and different authentication details are contained in the header(s).
  • The message’s body is what you read and respond to (the contents of the email).

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication techniques, which heavily rely on DNS records, authenticate the sender and stop email spoofing which a potential vector for spreadin malware. Email service providers use these steps and different email security solutions to protect personal and business email accounts.

PowerDMARC, for example, uses a combination of technologies, including SPF and DKIM signatures to prevent malicious emails from being delivered to recipient mailboxes. It also blocks new messages from being sent until the sender has been authenticated by your mail server.

  • Only Use Trusted Antivirus and Malware Software

There is a lot of malware out there, but you can protect yourself from it by using only the software that the antivirus companies trust. The best way to do this is to use free antivirus software that has been created by people who have a background in computer science and can detect new viruses as they come out. These companies also have staff members who work full time on developing new methods of detecting and removing these types of viruses.

  • Configure Regular Scans and Monitor Settings

You should also automatically run scans every day or at alternate days and monitor your system for new threats. This will ensure that you don’t miss any infections that might be lurking on your computer system. It will also ensure that you don’t click on links or download files from suspicious websites without knowing what they contain or what they could do to your computer system if downloaded onto your device.

  • Keep a Tight Grip on Your Personal Information

Before you share any personal information online, keep it safe by using 2-Step Verification and strong passwords that can’t be guessed with software or brute force attacks. You should also use an antivirus app on your computer and mobile device to scan files for viruses before they’re opened or saved. Also, don’t open any suspicious links in emails or texts — they can contain malware that can infect your computer or device if clicked on.

  • Always Update Your Operating System

Make sure you have the latest version of your operating system installed. If a new update is available, it will prompt you with a notification. If you do not install it immediately, an attacker may be able to access your computer and install malware. You should also keep your antivirus software up-to-date with the most recent security patches available.

Malware Protection: Stop Malware spread through bad emails

So how does malware affect your computer’s working might be clear to you now. Cybercriminals use malware to infect networks and systems and obtain access to the data that is stored on the same. 

Depending on the type of malware, the programs start different actions. The spectrum includes everything from bad data deletion to converting user input sniffing. Malware threatens every user group, including personal and business users. No security solution can promise 100% security because malware is constantly evolving and creating new variants. However, there are recognized behavioral standards for minimizing the virtual attack surface including DMARC. 

To start preventing Malware from spreading through bad emails, deploy DMARC at your organization today with a DMARC trial. No credit card or account details needed!

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