Malicious software, or malware, can cause harm to your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone. When malware accesses your device, it can give hackers complete access to your data and systems. Initially, malicious software was a form of cyber vandalism. It was used to break computers, gain access to personal information, and change backgrounds. However, these days it’s most often used by criminals who want to hold business and personal data for ransom, steal identities, and access bank accounts.
There are many different types of viruses. Read on to learn about these viruses and how you can protect yourself from them.
The computer virus is perhaps the most well-known type of malware. Computer viruses are a self-replicating piece of software that transfers from one computer to the next via email, disks, and drives. They are not standalone programs, but rather they attach themselves to legitimate programs and execute their malicious code when the legitimate program is run.
In addition to replicating themselves to infect new devices, viruses also have a “payload.” This is usually something harmless or irritating, like a pop-up message. However, it can also be something serious like a virus that wipes all your data altogether.
Luckily, viruses can’t spread by themselves. They need your help. Therefore the best way to protect yourself is by using antivirus software. The best free antivirus protection will have a fast scanning engine that allows you to quickly clean your computer. It should also have a high detection rate using advanced detection algorithms and techniques. Furthermore, as new viruses are appearing all the time, the antivirus program should get regular updates from its developers to increase its malware-stifling abilities.
In addition to an antivirus program, you should take some common-sense precautions as well. This includes things like not putting your USB drive into any random computer you come across, especially public machines. Furthermore, you should be wary of running any software you find on the internet unless it’s from a reputable source. For example, pirated software is a hotbed for viruses and other malware.
Ransomware is a very nasty type of malware. The damage it can do is outstanding. Once a device is infected with ransomware, it quietly starts encrypting and hiding your data and replacing it with sham folders and files bearing the same name. There are various approaches to this malware, but most criminals will encrypt files in locations that are the most likely to have crucial data first. Once they’ve encrypted enough of your data, you will receive a pop-up demanding payment in return for the encryption key. This is the only way to get your information back. That being said, we don’t advise that you give money to the ransomware author. Instead, you should try to access previous versions of your essential files by checking the Volume Shadow Copy. This is a feature of Windows that acts as an automated backup solution, storing copies of your files in the background automatically.
The best protection, however, is preventative action. You should store your most important files in a cloud service like DropBox, OneDrive, or Google Drive. This is because these services offer a rolling backup window. Therefore even if the encrypted files get synced to your cloud, you can return to the moments before the files were encrypted and access your files.
AdWare and Spyware
When dealing with AdWare and Spyware, you will encounter varying levels of harm. For instance, AdWare doesn’t usually do any damage on purpose. Instead, it’s irritating, making advertisements pop up on your screen. However, it can make your device inoperative by cluttering up the screen and utilizing a bunch of system resources. Fortunately, once you’ve removed this malware from your device using an antivirus program, there shouldn’t be any lasting damage.
Spyware, by contrast, is much more malicious. While it doesn’t do any direct damage, it spies on your activities and reports them back to its creator. This can involve watching you through your camera, logging your keystrokes, and recording your screen.
The only way to deal with Spyware is to use a specialized malware removal application. However, you can also take preventative steps by installing antivirus software.
While viruses may seem scary, they are preventable. While your actions may lead to a malware invasion, they can also be the strongest preventative. So start taking precautions now. Read up on the latest cybersecurity threats, practice basic, common-sense safety practices, and trust your gut. Perfect security doesn’t exist, but if you take the right steps, you can reduce your chances of being infected.