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One day recently, an interesting article from ZDNet popped up on the radar with this title, “What is malware? Everything you need to know about viruses, Trojans, and malicious software.” It sounded like a great topic for you, our readers, to further add to your understanding of life’s digital dangers.

This post will recap the article to give you a flavor of the content and let you decide if you want to read the entire piece. We think you will want to read it, start to finish. So here goes with the first nugget, the origin of the name, malware. This is simple enough, and the authors give us a clue in the article’s title. Malware is simply a contraction of the two words, malicious software. Clean and neat!

But, what is malware? It is software written for the express purpose of stealing information or causing damage to a network or individual computer. The people who develop the malware have a detailed understanding of how networks and software work. They experiment and find ways to take advantage of weaknesses in software code or hardware. A weakness goes by the name, “vulnerability,” and the action to take advantage of it is called an, “exploit.”

How is malware “delivered?” There are a variety of ways that users can become infected with malware. Most common these days is the phishing attack where the bad actors disguise an email to resemble a legitimate source. The intent is to get recipients to click links and divulge personal, organization, or corporate data. At the end of the day, someone, somewhere, has to fall for a scheme and get the “infection.” From there, it can spread further in a variety of ways, sometimes by simply sharing a file or picture.

There are so many different types of malware covered in the article; we created the following table for your convenience.

Malware type

Description

Virus

The original infection. Code that causes the host machine to take action the user has not asked it to take like playing sounds or showing messages.

Trojan

Malicious code disguised as a legitimate piece of software. Installing the Trojan’s program installs the code. Code can deactivate anti-virus programs, damage data, etc.

Spyware

Runs in the background, written to evade anti-virus programs. It collects user activity data for various purposes and sends it to the bad guys.

Ransomware

Encrypts data on the infected machine so it cannot be accessed. Users must pay a ransom for the decryption key.

Viper malware

Code designed specifically to destroy the data on a computer or network. It may steal the data first.

Worm

Another early form of malware that moves between machines without any action by the user other than communicating with an infected computer or network.

Adware

Pop-ups that do not go away until you click through to the ad. Generally, an annoyance rather than a threat but they can be dangerous. Often contracted by visiting sites you shouldn’t.

Botnet

Code that puts the infected machines under the control of a remote user. These run in the background and are used in denial of service attacks and for other purposes.

Cryptocurrency miner

Hijacks your computer to mine cryptocurrencies for the bad actors. The main effect is your PC slowing way down.

File-less malware

This sounds like the hacking approach movies make famous. The bad guys take advantage of vulnerabilities in systems to install files and scripts using software processes trusted by the system. Very nasty business because they are very hard to find and defend against.

Mobile malware

Bad software on your smartphone that can steal your data, track your location, monitor communications, and use your services.

Android malware

Malware that targets devices running the Android OS. They can plant infected apps in the Google Play store and use other tricks to have users download and install these apps.

Internet of Things

The IoT is a growing target for bad actors. We wrote about a casino being hacked via an aquarium thermostat. Security of these devices is poor and provide openings for hackers to exploit. Be alert when using these devices.

 

How do you protect yourself and your data from the unwanted attention of malware? Here’s our list of things everyone who ventures online must do.

  • Install, and keep updated, a good anti-virus software package. Run it regularly. Set it to scan files you download before opening them, just in case.
  • Patch everything; you’re OS, your software, your apps, as soon as the patches are available.
  • Don’t click links in emails, especially from governmental, financial, and other reputable “looking” sources. Go to the site and log in to see if any action is needed.
  • Don’t give your info to a person offering to share millions with you. Ever.
  • If you find a USB drive, never plug it into any computer. This is a popular method of spreading malware.
  • Stay alert when online, browsing, shopping, reading email, etc. Resist anything that looks too good to be true.

And, when it comes to securing your communications, trust CRIP.TO. Our unique solution of hardware, software, and stack of services are engineered to give you the best end-to-end encryption solution available outside of government and military agencies. In a democratic society, you deserve the freedom to communicate fearlessly. With CRIP.TO, you can. Check out the rest of our site to learn more.

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About CRIP.TO

We believe that everyone has the right to protect their information and keep their privacy. Integrity is a core value, and they see the vast potential of a decentralized, distributed solution like Blockchain as a key match in this space.

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