Whether you are an Apple, Windows, or Linux user, you are vulnerable to cyber threats from malware and viruses. Yet, when it comes to cybersecurity, people tend to fast-track their learning only to end up being exposed to security threats. So, it is important to understand the different classifications of malware to learn how it spreads and protects you from it. Let's get into it.
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The term "malware" refers to a malicious computer program/software that infiltrates a system with the intent to harm data and computers. Malware can cause much damage, including mining your computer for sensitive data and personally identifiable information (PII), disabling computer performance, encrypting or erasing data, or hacking computer-controlled hardware. The most common types of malware include:
Viruses are the oldest and the most common type of malicious software. A virus infects a system with the help of malicious code embedded in a third-party program. When the system user accesses or copies the infected file, the malware duplicates and spreads across programs and files in the computer.
Virus malware spreads from one computer to another via website downloads, email, instant messaging, network connections, and removable media.
Unlike viruses, worms can infect, replicate, and propagate without the consent or action of the user. After they breach the system, worms can spread all over the device and across the network the system is connected to.
Previously, worms reduced performance and damaged system resources. At present, worms delete or steal files with the help of malicious payloads.
Ransomware is one of the most damaging malware out there. Ransomware gives cybercriminals the leverage to access your sensitive information and hold it for ransom. It can encrypt your work files, PII, and other types of data to demand ransom. If you fail to pay the ransom, then all your data will be deleted from your system.
Rootkits give third-party access to your system. IT professionals mostly use them to resolve network issues; however, rootkits can also be used for other purposes. Rootkits give hackers complete access to machines and devices, and most of the time, the user is completely unaware of what is happening.
5. Trojan Horses
Trojans masquerade as legitimate software or files. They actively hide and often go completely unnoticed. Once downloaded, trojans can carry out a series of malicious activities, including changing your system, data, and passwords without your consent.
Misconceptions about malware provide easy access to targets. You can prevent yourself from being a soft target by understanding some key points about malware:
The most common assumption about malware is that the user would know if the system is compromised. Malware has the potential to go unnoticed for the longest time. Most malware displays no signs of infiltration or a trail to follow, including malware like ransomware.
The second most common assumption is believing all reputable websites to be safe. Often legitimate websites are infiltrated by malicious codes that enter the system when private information is entered or downloaded files.
Sending emails to known contacts is assumed to be safe. Malware and viruses are spread via emails to known contacts. So, avoid opening attachments you feel strange about, even from known senders.