5 Types Of Malware Threatening Your Business.

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Malware is a word used to describe any type of ‘malicious software’. Such software is typically created and planted by cybercriminals in an attempt to disrupt businesses, extort information or steal money. When running a business, it’s important to protect your IT infrastructure from this malware.

This post lists some of the common types of malware that are targeted at businesses and the protection methods you can take.

Adware

Started seeing strange and intrusive ads popping up in your browser? Your system could be infected with adware. This type of malware causes unwanted adverts to constantly appear in the form of pop-ups and banners. These adverts may pester you into buying dodgy products (which could even include other more serious forms of malware). You should try not to click on these ads for this reason (although this is easier said than done, as some of these ads will be placed where you are likely to accidentally click on them). 

Adware often gets onto computers by visiting untrustworthy websites or by downloading pirated software. Decent malware protection should be able to block adware from downloading itself onto your computer.

Trojans

Trojans are forms of malware that pretend to be legitimate software but are malicious. They could pretend to be accounting software, photo editing software or even security software. 

Businesses often voluntarily download trojans onto their computer – sometimes while trying to pirate legitimate software. Cybercriminals may also persuade businesses to download trojans through phishing emails disguised as everyday sales emails. To avoid falling trap to trojans, always look up software companies online before downloading their program – there will usually be alerts telling you to stay away if it is a malicious program.

Worms

Worms are a malicious form of software that can automatically replicate themselves and spread through systems – often by exploiting small cracks in security. Worms often carry other malware and can be more dangerous than trojans because you don’t have to manually download them for them to get onto your system.

Worms may automatically download themselves while opening an attachment in an untrustworthy email or even by opening files spread through instant messaging. They can also ‘dig’ their way into computers by infecting weaknesses in other software – particularly expired software that is no longer supported. Never open files sent to you if they seem off, and replace old software before it loses support. 

Spyware

Spyware is so-called because it secretly spies on your activity after being downloaded onto your system. In doing so, spyware is often able to steal sensitive information. A few ways that spyware achieves this include:

  • Tracking cookies: Spyware may track your internet activity and harvest this data for malicious purposes.
  • Email/IM scanning: Spyware may intercept emails and instant messages that you send.
  • Keylogging: Spyware may record your keystrokes to steal passwords. 
  • Screen captures: Spyware may capture photos or live video capture of your screen to stream various information.
  • Recording audio: Spyware may hack microphones and record audio.
  • Recording video: Spyware may even hack your device’s camera and record video footage.

As you can see, spyware can be one of the more scary forms of malware – and it isn’t always easy to detect. It will often take the form of a trojan, or infiltrate itself via a worm and then lay hidden. Fortunately, there are often telltale signs that your system is infected – your computer may start acting slow and certain keys may not seem to work. It is important to get this malware removed as soon as possible to prevent any information from being stolen. 

Ransomware

Perhaps the most scary of all malware types is ransomware. This form of malware is not subtle – a message will usually pop up in the middle of the screen and tell you that all your files have been locked/encrypted and that the only way to access them is by paying a ransom. These ransoms are often very high and you may only have a short time to pay them before your files are permanently encrypted/deleted. The worst of it is that there’s no guarantee your files will be safe even if you pay the ransom.

Ransomware can get onto your computer through various means but is often hidden in malicious email attachments. Some security programs can block ransomware from taking hold, so make sure you’re adequately protected. The next best defence is to back up all files on the cloud – you can then cut off access from the infected system and continue to access your files on the cloud from another device. If your computer is infected with ransomware, immediately look into getting help from a reputable ransomware recovery company. Do not pay the ransom – there will often be a way to remove the malware without having to pay it. 

About the author

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Like Minds is a global thought leadership platform delivering world class events on business development, knowledge and insight aimed at entrepreneurs and business leaders to engage, stimulate and empower them to become global businesses of the future. We also offer a bespoke service for corporate clients and training programmes under the Like Minds U brand. For more information please email bespoke@wearelikeminds.com