What is Malware?

10 Feb / 2022

Cyber Security

What is Malware? 


Malware is a broad term that refers to variety of malicious software cyber criminals use including:

  • Worms
    • Once a worm infiltrates into a system and installed itself into the computers memory, it can spread like a parasite and instal itself onto other computers or servers connected to the network.
    • Worms are malicious software because they can modify or delete your files, steal your data, gather personal information and provide hackers a backdoor entry point into your network.
  • Viruses
    • Computer viruses are programs that need to be executed to be installed onto your system. Once the computer virus is alive it replicates and can infect your entire network with its own code so it can steal passwords and data, scan your contacts, log keystrokes, corrupt files or even take over your device.
    • Often they are disguised as day-to-day documents or programs which tricks users into opening them. They are often given away by the .exe (executable file) file format.
  • Ransomware
    • Ransomware can be devastating to a business because it denies you access to your systems, files and sensitive data and information.
    • Often the hackers who lock you out of your systems demand a ransom for its release which both small businesses and large corporations are forced to pay if they have hope of resuming business operations.
    • Check out our article to learn more about protecting your company from hackers.
  • Trojan Horses
    • Much like the Greeks in ancient tale, hackers hide malicious cyber attacks within seemling trustworthy packages. A user may willingly download a folder or file into the network they expect is safe but when opened releases a hidden cyber threat.
    • Trojan Horses are a backdoor entry into a network which hackers and cyber criminals can use to gain entry into computers and networks undetected.
  • Adware
    • Adware displays pop ups and display ads that have no relevance to you, though sometimes they can be well disguised to make it look like legitimate notifications that require your attention.
    • Though adware is not as dangerous as other malwares, like worms or viruses, they are destructive which impedes business process and can collect and distribute information about yourself.
  • Spyware
    • As you may guess from its name, Spyware silently monitors your interactions to collect data, harvest personal information and sensitive details like logins and financial information.
    • When a hacker can access your bank accounts and other official websites with your login credentials it leaves you vulnerable to illegal activities such as fraud, identity theft and credit card fraud.
  • Spam & Phishing
    • Spam and Email Phishing is on the rise in Australia and claiming more and more victims every year as they advance in sophistication. They come in the form of text messages and emails which contain a call-to-action message and link to remedy the situation.
    • The most famous example of a phishing email is when an apparent long-lost relative dies and you are in line to inherit millions - all you need to do is click the link and provide your financial details.

Each malware has its own behaviour, but ultimately malware is used by hackers to access, exploit or harm your computer systems, IT networks or any programmable device.


Signs your computer is infected with Malware

Malware can sometimes be hard to identify without cyber security platforms and Endpoint Protection but there are was to tell if there is Malware on your computer or network.

Sign of Malware attacks:

  • Computer is running very slowly or crashing
  • You web browser takes you to pages without being prompted
  • Blue screen
  • Warnings and notifications announcing action need to be taken (eg. security threat) and provides a link to purchase the ‘fix’
  • Pop up ads and unknown program pop ups
  • Programs opening automatically, or, closing automatically
  • Diminished storage space on your computer

How to stop Malware

As we read above, Malware comes in all sorts of variations each with different:

  • Ways to infiltrate a network
  • Behaviour once a system is infected
  • Targets within a network
  • Potential damage it can cause

To stop malware your company will need to conduct a Cyber Maturity Assessment to understand your existing readiness to identify and handle a cyber threat, then understand where needs enhanced protection.

There are Cyber Security Platforms that can provide broad spectrum cyber protection against malware threats which can monitor your servers and endpoints for potential malware threats.

A great place to start is with Endpoint Protection which is a far more advanced version of antivirus software. Otherwise, there are alternative cyber security products your ICT infrastructure can use to prevent malware attacks.

  • Cythera’s Malware Protection

Cythera provide businesses all over Australia with advanced malware protection and managed detection and response services.

Resources

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