What is Malware?

Malware is an umbrella term for any form of malicious software that aims to cause harm to a device, network, or service.

Cybercriminals compromise computers with malware for a variety of purposes, such as:

- Stealing personal data from an individual or business, such as credit card or financial details
- Tricking individuals into providing personal data for identity theft purposes
- Taking control over multiple computers to launch denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
- Infecting devices to use them for cryptocurrency mining

Malware can enter a device or network in multiple ways such as email attachments, malicious adverts and pop-ups, infected USB drives, fake software installations, or phishing emails – making it imperative that networks are thoroughly secured for every potential threat.

Types of Malware

Different types of malware require different methods of protection, and understanding each threat is the first step towards securing your network against them.

Viruses
When you think of malware, this is likely you think of viruses. A virus typically comes as an attachment to an email that holds software designed to corrupt your device. Be careful of unknown email attachments, especially executable files (.exe), as once opened it’s incredibly hard to stop the virus from spreading.

Ransomware
Often the most profitable form of malware, ransomware is favoured by cybercriminals who intend to profit off the attack. Once opened, ransomware encrypts the victim’s files and demands a ransom for their return.

Spyware
Spyware is used to monitor a user’s activity on a device without their knowledge. Often used by law enforcement during investigations, spyware can view all communications made to and from a device as well as tracking their internet browsing.

Scareware
Scareware aims to encourage victims to open malicious files. Scareware will try and trick users into thinking their device is already affected and encourage them to click through and purchase or download malicious software. If you are on the internet and see popups that say ‘’Your device is compromised!’’ or similar, this is nothing more than Scareware trying to infiltrate your device.

Trojans
Much like its namesake, trojan malware masquerades as something harmless with the intent of tricking users into downloading and running them. Once installed it can steal personal data, crash devices, or launch DDoS attacks using the device as part of its botnet.

Worms
Unlike other malware, worms don’t require victim interaction to infiltrate a network. Worms can copy themselves from device to device by exploiting weaknesses within the network itself.

Fileless Malware
Fileless malware uses legitimate files to infect devices, meaning that there are no malicious processes for malware protection to detect. Fileless malware leaves no footprint, making it very hard to remove.

How do you know if you’ve been infected with Malware?

Common signs that your device has been infected with malware are:

- Slow computer performance
- Frequent pop-up ads
- Problems shutting down or powering up your computer
- Browser redirects
- Infection warnings, often accompanied by purchasable solutions to remove them

The more symptoms your device is showing, the more likely you have been the victim of malware.

How to protect yourself and your network from Malware

Malware can be mitigated in two key ways - ensuring your network and protections are up to date and practising good online vigilance when it comes to unknown links and downloads.

Make sure to brief your team on the dangers of malware, and educate them on how to spot potentially harmful links both online and in email. This will prevent a significant portion of attacks, leaving your IT team to focus on the less easily detectable.

Here at RedSpam we specialise in network protection from every angle. For more information on how we can help protect your network, talk with a RedSpam specialist today