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Does malware scare you? Excruciatingly, it should.

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The 9 deadly types of malicious software

Nowadays it’s not hard to stumble across malicious software out on the open internet.

A great deal of the time you’re absolutely set by installing an anti-virus product & just letting it run, alerting you if and when you’ve encountered a virus – in many cases it will block the connection before you even have a chance to be infected.

Unfortunately, not all malware is quite as submissive.

Viruses

Viruses attack by infecting other files on your system, deleting them, or reformatting them and making it very difficult to clean up. Often, viruses work by replicating themselves or by flooding your network, making it life at your computer pretty unmanageable.

Clean up can range from difficult to practically impossible. In many cases, to get things working again you will need to quarantine or delete the affected files, though you may very well end up needing to rebuild the computers from scratch.

Worms

No, not quite the type of worm you’d contract as a child from eating dirt and having grubby fingernails, but they are pretty old school!

The scary thing about worms is that unlike a virus, you don’t need to take any action to spread it. Worms replicate themselves and actually exploit other software to do their job for them. These little biters can take down a whole network.

You may have heard of the ‘iloveyou’ worm, which came out 21 years ago & affected 50 million Windows machines across the world in only 10 days.

At least the worms you had as a child only gave you an itchy bum.

Trojans

This type of malware takes advantage of its victim’s lack of security knowledge. It’s somewhat similar to a worm, but is way more advanced, usually arriving in the form of an email attachment.

Annoyingly the emails you receive these in are becoming more and more authentic looking, so it’s easy to be caught out.

Once you open the attachment… bang… it’s got you. Trojans can also be pushed onto devices when you land on an infected website. This kind of malware is difficult to defend against, because they easy to write and are triggered by humans opening them in error.

Hybrids

You’ve probably heard that hybrids are good for the environment. These ones aren’t.

Look back at the first three kinds of malware we’ve talked about, and how difficult they are to protect against. Now picture the love child of two of these forms of malware quietly arriving to attack your business.

Terrifying. A hybrid is just that – malware with different attributes, such as the disguise of a trojan and the power of a worm.

As you can imagine, with hybrids it can be very difficult to clean up after an attack.

Ransomware

Do you like history? Cause that’s what your files are about to be.

Ransomware is absolutely enormous right now. And businesses like yours are the prime target.

It works by encrypting all your data and holding it hostage. You literally have no data at all – no customer records, no files, no emails, nothing. Can you imagine how terrifying that would be? The hackers demand you pay a ransom for them to free your data and give it back to you.

This can be thousands of pounds, often asked for in cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin) which is harder to trace. Most ransomware is a trojan, meaning it relies on someone accidentally triggering it by opening an attachment, or visiting an unsecured website.

Sadly, this type of attack is very difficult to recover from – the financial impact can be huge – and that’s without paying the ransom. Please make sure your files are backed-up regularly to avoid total devastation. And you and your team are trained to spot the symptoms of an impending attack.

Fileless Malware

Around half of all malware attacks are delivered by fileless malware, and this is growing all the time.

Where ‘traditional’ malware relies on files to spread and infect, this form of malware relies on memory, or other fileless parts of your computer’s operating system. This type of attack is much harder to detect and to stop.

Adware

Adware is often more annoying than dangerous. But it can slow computers down, or make you more vulnerable to other attacks. And anything that’s installed without your express permission is a pest and should be tackled.

Malvertising

As you probably guessed, malvertising is malware hidden behind advertising. Don’t confuse this with adware. Malvertising occurs when a cybercriminal pays for an advert on a genuine website. When you click on the ad, you’re either redirected to a malicious website, or malware is installed on your device.

Sometimes even genuine ads are compromised. And even more scarily, sometimes you don’t even have to click the ad to be affected. This is called a drive-by download attack.

Spyware

When installed, spyware can monitor the websites you visit, everything you type (this is known as keylogging) and any other information about you and what you’re doing on your device.

It’s a good way for someone to find out your login information and passwords. Spyware is activated when you click on something you shouldn’t, such as an attachment, a pop-up or notification.

Or by downloading media from an unreliable source. Like adware, this is simpler to remove, but by the time you’ve noticed it, there’s the risk you’ve given away a lot of valuable information.

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