What is malware?

audit gdpr

A safe environment for IT activities is hard to accomplish with so much malware lurking around. Intended to exploit or sometimes even harm any programmable device it encounters, a malicious software (malware) is many times distributed unwillingly.

How Many Types of Malware Are There?

The main types of malware are viruses, trojans, worms, adware, ransomware and spyware. Recently, criptominers were added to the nefarious list. There are other types, too, but either less frequent or less dangerous. Most of them are hidden under several layers of false claims, in mobile apps, web links and files. They include specific commands, executed after the malware is installed on the devices it targets.

New malware variants are developed and distributed every day. There is a fierce competition between their creators and the security experts, who aim to detect and stop them from entering the protected IT environments. The experts have built databases of malware behavioural traits, in order to help detection, prevent and block any harmful action. The guardians also report continuously to their clients and to the community about their findings, in order to keep the It environment secure, as much as possible.

How Does Malware Work?

The code is designed with one or several purposes of the malware. Some of them are quietly operating for months, before they are detected. Sometimes, they spread laterally in a network, before they become aggressive and attack, stealing data, encrypting or destroying it.

One purpose is spying on the users of the targeted devices, logging the key strokes, recording sound and video, reading and copying passwords.

Another purpose is blocking specific software or altering data, like hijacking the web addresses, slowing the devices or turning them into unresponsive gadgets.

A different purpose is to use the IT resources for criptomining, incognito. The legitimate user will have no idea as to why the device slows down, heats up and issues various visible and audible alerts.

Adware works by abusing the display, flooding it with unwanted ads, unexpectedly, generating money for the creator of the malware and nuisance for the user of the device.

Ransomware blocks the access to specific files or to the devices it was deployed to, prompting the user with a message that requests a ransom in exchange for a decryption key or for access restoration.

What Kind of Businesses Could Rank For Malware And Why?

There is a clear increase in ransomware attacks and the amounts requested by hackers went up. Many multinational companies, Fortune 500 or other giant organizations suffered from ransomware attacks in the past 12 months, some of them having paid heavily, in order to restore their normal operations.

SMBs are not exempt, though. Larger companies have their teams of cybersecurity experts and they can easily afford to spend on technical measures, trainings and other protective methods. SMBs find it more difficult to spare significant amounts for IT safety. A marketing agency was overwhelmed by such a ransomware attack, blocking its computers and stealing their clients’ database, so much so, that it went out of business.

Most frequently, such incidents were reported in the health industry, insurance, retail, education, as well as shipping, gaming, legal services, cruising and other businesses. Public institutions and authorities have also disclosed many times that they have been breached. Individuals are not safe either, although the risks are not as high as for the entities with generous budgets.

How Can You Protect Your Devices?

Be informed. Update your devices frequently. Use unique and complex passwords for all your accounts. Keep copies of your valuable data. Create restore points. Use antivirus for all your devices. Beware of suspicious emails, SMS, attachments, links and mobile apps. Befriend an expert in cybersecurity. Monitor any strange behaviours of your devices. Act without delay, when you detect something goes wrong.