In an age where our digital lives are deeply intertwined with technology, the threat of malware looms large as a formidable adversary. In this article, we embark on a journey to demystify malware, understanding its origins, the various forms it takes, and the inherent security risks it poses to our interconnected world. Most crucially, we arm you with essential knowledge and practical strategies to shield yourself against malware’s insidious reach, ensuring your digital experiences remain safe and secure. Join us as we uncover the keys to fortifying your defences against this relentless digital foe.
Malware, short for “malicious software,” is a broad term that encompasses any software specifically designed to harm, exploit, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems, networks, or digital devices. Malware is created with malicious intent and can take on various forms and functions, making it a versatile tool for cybercriminals.
How Your Device Can Become Infected by Malware
Malware could infect your device when you…
- Download media or applications from the web. Malware could be disguised inside downloads that look legitimate at first glance.
- Open links or attachments in phishing emails.
- Plug in unknown removable devices into your computer.
- Visit an illegitimate website. Your device could be infected with malware when you visit an illegitimate website. Drive-by’ downloads allow your device to be infected even if you don’t knowingly download anything off the website.
What Could Malware Do on Your Devices
Malware could …
- Spy on your private information. Malware could gather your log-in credentials and online banking details.
- Lock up your documents and data. The malware could even ask for a ransom for returning you full access to your device.
- Show you intrusive ads. Some types of malware litter your device with intrusive advertisements.
- Mine cryptocurrencies on your device, without your knowledge. This type of malware is called cryptojacker. Once a device is infected, the cryptojacker runs in the background without the user’s awareness. It starts using the device’s computational resources to perform complex mathematical calculations required for cryptocurrency mining.
Safeguarding Strategies Against Malware
- Do not open unknown attachments – When you receive an unexpected email containing an attachment, do not open the attachment. Never open attachments unless you know why they have been sent to you and that they are safe.
- Install Updates – When your operating system lets you know that a new update is ready to install. Install the update as soon as reasonably possible. New OS updates contain security patches that help keep your device safe from malware.
- Never plug in unknown removable devices. Let us say you get to the office in the morning, and you find a removable USB stick on your desk. What should you do? Take the device to Lost and Found. Never plug in removable devices you can’t know that you can trust.
- Avoid browsing suspicious websites.
- Your device could be infected with malware when you visit an illegitimate website. Drive-by’ downloads allow your device to be infected even if you don’t knowingly download anything off the website.
- Let us say you are looking for a new spreadsheet template when you get to a website that has many flashing ads and spelling errors. What should you do? You should leave the website immediately.
- Avoid downloading anything from sites you cannot trust. Malware is most likely to infect your device when you download media or applications from the web.
- Install Apps from official application stores. If you are looking for a new productivity app, you should install it from an official application store. Official application stores are less likely to contain malware.