Malware is any type of malicious software that can be used to threaten a network or computer. It is typically used to steal information and data that can be used for personal or financial gain. Malware can be implemented into personal computers, company computers, company networks, mobile devices and other electronic devices. Some of the detrimental effects of malware can include data breaches, account compromisation, server hijacking, disruption in normal activities and communication and much more.
Here are some of the most common types of malware that can be found today:
- Worm: Worms are a type of malware that spreads across networks and networked computers by the process of replication.
- Trojan: A type of malware that disguises itself as part of a legitimate program in order to hide its malicious activities.
- Virus: A type of malware that is spread by downloading and executing malicious files.
- Adware: A type of malware that delivers unwanted advertisements and browser redirecting for malicious profit.
- Spyware: A type of malware that monitors keyboard, browsing and navigational activities for data that can be used for personal or financial gain.
- Hijackers: A type of malware program that utilizes computer resources in order to connect to other “hijacked” computers to create a botnet of zombie computers.
- Antivirus: Antivirus software is a great start to prevent malware from infiltrating your computer. While it will stop the most common types of malware, but it is not enough as a lone means of defense. You should also install anti-malware and anti-spyware software in addition to the anti-virus. These additional programs scan for threats that most typical anti-virus programs don’t scan for. Incoming email, instant messaging communication and other traffic is also scanned for malware threats, so that the user is notified of the threat and action can be taken before the threat actually infects the computer and network.
- Firewalls: While the main objective of a firewall is to prevent malicious access from exterior threats, most firewalls also block outgoing access from malicious programs. So if a malware program does get installed on a computer, a firewall may prevent the malware from accessing the internet and alert users to the fact that a malicious program has been installed.
- Frequent updates: Updates should be installed as soon as they are available in order to keep company computers and networks protected from the latest threats.
- Stay alert: Treat all programs as if they are malicious. Some antivirus programs allow users to execute files in a quarantined environment so they can be tested for malicious activities before the program actually executes on the computer or network. During installation, many programs have two options: typical installation (usually labelled the “recommended” option) and custom installation (which is usually recommended for advanced users). Users should always pick the custom installation option, as the “recommended” installation may include the installation of spyware, toolbars and other types of malware without the user’s consent or knowledge.