What is malware?
Updated at: Oct 01, 2019
Malware stands for malicious software. Being as simplistic as possible, it’s something that has been projected to harm you, your company, devices and data.
Most of the time malware is used by cybercriminals to make money illegally, either by stealing confidential data from companies and people to later sell it or use it for transactions, or even by hijacking information and demanding a ransom payment for them.
It’s important to know that the term malware is broad. For example, when we are talking about virus, trojan, spyware, and ransomware, we are talking about different types of malware.
Types of malware
We have listed the most common types of malware. Before you start reading it, let us just make an important point. People often ask us which is the most dangerous type of malware and which one can cause the biggest harm. It's hard to say, since it depends on what type of information you are dealing with and which devices have been infected. What we can point out is that most malware can cause many headaches and major intellectual and financial damage.
Adware is a very common type of malware. It’s designed to show different ads on your screen, often through pop-ups, which is so boring. Right? The main problem about adware is that it can decrease your security strength, which can facilitate infection by other types of malware.
Cryptojacking is also known as cryptocurrency miner. Basically, it allows the attackers to use your computer to generate cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin and Monero. Generally, the hacker infects your computer with another type of malware, such as a Trojan, and then infects your machine with the cryptojacking.
Keylogger works as a database. Its job is to record all your keystrokes on the keyboard. Then this information is sent to the hacker, who can identify passwords and details of your credit card, for example.
Ransomware has the ability to encrypt your files or block your devices and system. Hackers then demand a payment for the information that has been hijacked. If you have heard about WannaCry and Petya, you know what I’m talking about.
Rootkit is an advanced malware designed to allow full control over your computer. Besides that, it has a particular characteristic: camouflage, which means that your security software and operating system may not detect it.
Spyware is a spy software. Secretly, after infecting your device, it will report your activities to the attacker. It’s commonly used by criminals who are trying to steal passwords, payment data, and confidential information.
Trojan works as a gateway for attackers, allowing them to have full access to your system. It can be used to install other types of malware on your computer, such as ransomware, and also to steal important information, such as your internet banking credentials.
Virus is essentially a malware that merge to other programs. Then it’s able to cause damage and modify other computer programs. An huge concern about a virus is that it can spread quickly and uncontrollably.
Worms were created to destroy data and files. The concern is the same as with a virus: they self-replicate easily and infect other machines.
How to protect against malware
Malware attackers require you to run a malicious file, either by clicking a link or by opening an infected file. That's why many malware infections are linked to illegal downloads and phishing attacks.
Keeping this in mind, the most important tip for protecting yourself and your business against malware attacks is to avoid anything that looks suspicious. I’m talking about emails, websites, links and attachments.
To improve your organization security, you could adopt a protection software, such as a Secure Email Gateway, with anti-virus, anti-spam and sandbox engines. If you want to get a free threat assessment, just let us know. We're here to help.