Malware Detection and Protection

Malware exists and is created for a wide range of reasons. Some malware, such as ransomware, is specifically deployed for financial gain. Other types of malware, such as worms and certain viruses, are deployed as a means to wreak some type of havoc within a company, business or government entity. They can be deployed by disgruntled employees prior to quitting or being terminated or they can be deployed as simply a means of disrupting some type of government agency. Whatever the reason, malware protection is becoming increasingly important for businesses and companies of all kinds as well as for private computers. Here are some different types of malware and how you can protect yourself, your business or your company against them.

Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are no longer just for big businesses, corporations or government entities. Ransomware attacks have now gone mainstream and can strike anyone at any time. There are actually three different types of ransomware attacks, however, some of which are far more serious than others. Scareware usually consists of a popup that tells you some type of malware has been detected on your computer and can be dealt with for a small fee. In this case, none of your files have been compromised and the worst that can happen is you may have to continue to deal with an annoying popup. Screen lockers will lock you out of your computer but do not do any damage to your files.

Encrypting ransomware, however, is the nastiest and most dangerous of all types of ransomware because it actually infects and encrypts your files, forcing you to pay a fee for a decryption key. Ransomware almost always depends on a download of some kind, so the best way to protect against ransomware (and all other types of malware) is to invest in state-of-the art cybersecurity. This includes real-time protection with anti-exploit technology and an anti-ransomware component. The second best way to protect against ransomware is to create secure backups of all of your files on a regular basis.

Viruses

While there are countless different types of viruses that are created for a host of different reasons, the primary component of viruses that differentiate them from other types of malware is that they are programmed with an innate need to spread. Viruses are often the means by which ransomware and other types of malware are spread throughout an entire system, so that when an attack is initiated, the entire system is affected not just the originating computer.

The three main types of viruses are system or boot infectors, file infectors or macroviruses. Apple and Microsoft have all but eliminated most system or boot infectors and macro viruses are fairly easy to eliminate with anti-virus software that simply disables any unsigned macros. File infectors, however, are the most prevalent threat. Anti-viral software goes on high alert whenever a computer attempts to run any executable files that are either downloaded from the Internet or introduced via a USB drive. Since these viruses are constantly changing and being developed, it is important to keep your anti-virus software consistently up-to-date.

Worms

Unlike a virus, a worm generally does not infect files. The primary goal of worms is simply to replicate themselves over and over until they eat up all available disc space. That being said, while they don't create immediate damage or infect files they can be incredibly difficult to get rid of.

Trojan Horses

A trojan horse presents itself as a useful piece of software like a free word processing program or an anti-virus program. Generally, the program actually works as it is intended to but it also delivers a payload of some kind, such as a virus or program that creates a backdoor into the system or a keylogger that gives cybercriminals access to all of the keystrokes you use to enter credit card information or login credentials.

Rootkits

A rootkit is a collection of software that is often delivered via trojan horse but it can also be installed by gaining administrator privileges through targeted phishing scams. A rootkit creates a backdoor into your system that allows cybercriminals to introduce an entire host of malware. Rootkits generally work in quietly in the background so a user may never notice anything and they are even capable of subverting any security software that may discover it. Rootkits are particularly nasty and generally require the complete reinstallation of an OS to eliminate them.

Grayware

Grayware is a collection of applications and files that take up space on your computer and may even reduce processing speeds, but aren't particularly malicious. These include programs like adware that creates popups that cannot be removed or closed and spyware that monitors your activities and powers the specific adware. Most grayware can be identified and removed by most commercially available anti-virus programs.

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