Malware is an umbrella term for malicious software designed to harm, exploit, or extract sensitive data from a system, device, or network. For example, cybercriminals use malicious software to access sensitive information they can use for financial gain. Stolen data can include anything from your payment details to your medical records, passwords, and more.
How Do I Get Malware?
Malware is commonly spread by visiting suspicious websites, downloading files, or emailing. Here are some other ways malware can find its way into your devices.
Phishing emails trick a victim into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that contains a malicious file. These emails appear to come from friends, trusted sources, or reputable organizations. Once opened, however, the malware code runs and starts carrying out actions on your system.
Infected USB Drive
Infected USB drives are used whenever an attacker needs physical access to a computer. Once plugged into your device, an infected USB drive auto-executes the malware code.
Malicious advertisement is a tactic that attempts to distribute malware through online advertisements. It typically involves cybercriminals injecting infected ads into legitimate advertising networks displayed on websites we trust. While some malicious ads require you to click on them to get infected, others can infect you automatically as soon as the page loads.
Fake Software Installations
You may think you found a movie, song, or software for free, but in reality, you fell for bait that downloads malware to your computer.
While apps available on an official app store are usually safe, some come from less legitimate sources that can contain malware.
How Can I Tell If My Computer Has a Malware Infection?
If you notice that your computer is acting strange, there’s a possibility it has been infected with malware. Here are the most common signs that malware has compromised your system.
If your operating system and other programs take a while to startup, it indicates that your system might be infected by malware. This is especially true if you recently installed a program, you are unfamiliar with.
Blue Screen of Death
If your computer crashes regularly, it may be a malware infection. Known as the blue screen of death (BSOD) – it’s a common indicator a malware is causing trouble behind the scenes.
If your hard drive is working excessively when no other programs are running, you should scan your system for malware. Similarly, if you see unrecognized changes or files generated on your computer, this can indicate a malware infection.
if you have ads unwanted ads pop up frequently, it may be a sign of adware or scareware.
If your browser frequently takes you to websites you intend to avoid visiting.
Types of Malware
There are many types of malware, and understanding the different types can help you better protect your devices. Here are some of the most common types:
A virus is a program that self-replicates by inserting its code into other programs. Viruses are distributed via emails, websites, or flash drives and activate when a victim opens the infected file. Viruses can lead to deleted or encrypted files, modified applications or malfunctions.
Ransomware is a malware designed to block access to a computer system until a ransom is paid. Then, hackers demand cryptocurrency for the decryption key that allows you to re-access your data.
Scareware is a malware tactic that manipulates users into downloading malicious software. It usually comes in pop-up ads that impersonate anti-virus companies informing you that your system’s files have been infected. This tactic takes advantage of a user’s fear to pressure them into buying fake anti-malware software.
A computer worm is malware reproducing and spreading from system to system without human assistance. Worms can exploit security software vulnerabilities, steal sensitive information, corrupt files, and install backdoor access to a system. They also utilize a large amount of memory, so affected computers and servers can overload and fail to respond.
Spyware is software designed to capture your activity and sensitive information without your knowledge or consent. Your information is then relayed to data firms and advertisers or sold on the dark web for profit.
A trojan, or trojan horse, is malware disguised as legitimate software. Many modern forms of this malware allow cybercriminals to create a backdoor in your computer system that gives them unauthorized access. Unlike worms or viruses, trojans do not replicate themselves but are often used in ransomware attacks to access users’ sensitive information.
Adware is software designed to serve advertisements to you, either within your web browser or in other programs. Adware isn’t always bad. Some free apps, for instance, include adware to make revenue from ads. Malicious adware, however, bombards you with infected ads that harm your computer.
Rootkit is a form of malware that provides hackers access to control a target’s computer or smart device. Anything with an operating system is a potential target for this particular malware.
A keylogger is another malware that records the user’s keystrokes on a keyboard. The cybercriminal uses this gathered information to access personal accounts and information.
Do Macs Get Malware?
Yes, Macs can get infected with malware. Despite the security features that come with Macs, they can still catch viruses and other malware.
Do Mobile Devices Get Malware?
Our mobile devices can be vulnerable to malware and other viruses. Malware can slow down your phone’s performance and make it easy for criminals to steal your information.
How Can I Tell If My Mobile Device Has Malware?
Here are some helpful signs that your mobile device has malware.
1. Notice Invasive Pop-Ups.
If you have noticed an increase in pop-ups or if they appear spammy, you may have installed something that hides adware.
2. An Increase in Data Usage.
Malware can use up your data, especially when displaying invasive pop-ups.
3. Low Battery.
Malware drains your battery life without your knowledge.
4. Your Mobile Device is Hot.
If your device feels hot to the touch, it could be a sign of malware. As mentioned before, malware drains your device’s power, which can make your phone get warm.
5. Notice Unfamiliar Apps.
If you notice new apps, you never downloaded, that could be a sign of malware.
How Can I Help Protect Myself From or Get Rid of Malware?
The best thing you can do to protect your information and devices from malware is to practice safe online habits. Here are some tips you can follow:
Avoid Suspicious Sites and Downloads
Torrent sites, illegal downloads and apps that come from an unknown source all put your devices at risk of malware.
Double-Check the Source
Think twice before clicking on a link. Make sure it’s from a trusted source.
Update Your Devices
Keep your software, applications, and operating system updated. Hackers always look for vulnerabilities in outdated software. So, make sure to install updates regularly.
Protect Your Devices
Do not leave your devices unattended; make sure to lock them with a password or biometric lock.
Keep the Essentials
Limit the number of applications on your device. Only keep those apps on your phone that you use regularly. Uninstall an application if you no longer use it.
Use Anti-Malware Software
Anti-malware software is designed to prevent, detect, and remove malware that tries to infect your devices.
Consider Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection can be a great solution to protect your data. IdentityIQ identity theft protection plans offer real-time monitoring, fraud alerts, antivirus software, and VPN.
We Recommend Anti-Malware Software That Has the Following Features:
Complete Data Protection.
Anti-malware that defends against all e-threats, including viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, zero-day exploits, rootkits, and spyware. Rest easy knowing your data is safe.
Phishing scams are on the rise and are one of the main ways people get tricked into exposing their sensitive information. Look for anti-malware software with advanced anti-phishing protection to help you easily avoid malicious software designed to steal your passwords, financial data, and other data.
Look for a filtering system that alerts you when you visit a website that may try to scam you.
Advanced Threat Defense
You should be able to scan apps on your devices for any signs of malware. If any suspicious activity is detected, you want to be able to take immediate action to protect your data and devices.
Web Attack Prevention
Check for web-filtering technology that helps you avoid harmful websites. Good anti-malware software will block infected links and let you know whether your search results are safe to access before you click on a link.
Social Network Protection
Stay protected from malicious links and other online threats on social media.
This feature allows you to filter spam and other suspicious emails from your inbox.