What is Malware?

Malware is short for ‘malicious software.’ Malware is used to refer to any intrusive software which is developed by cybercriminals and it is an increasingly common practice online adopted by cybercriminals and other nefarious people online. Cybercriminals will use malware in order to steal data and potentially destroy computer systems. There are various different types of malware used by hackers to infiltrate devices. The most common types of malware online are:

  1. Viruses
  2. Worms
  3. Spyware

Using a VPN can in some circumstances help prevent malware and protect you from falling victim to malware in its various forms. However, a VPN or any other protection method is unlikely to be 100% effective and therefore you should always take care when browsing online. Ultimately, human error and vulnerability can leave you open to attack, no matter what protection method you use.

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Can Users Protect Their Network Against Malware?

 

Users can attempt to protect themselves against malware attacks. Preventative tools can increase security, but they cannot guarantee protection against all types of malware. The most advanced technology can infiltrate a network even when it is trying to prevent attacks.

There are technologies available which are able to monitor and detect malware in order to reduce any harmful impacts it may have on devices or networks. The best protection should include multiple layers of safeguarding and high level intelligence and visibility features.

In order to remove malware from a device or network, content network scanning will be required. This process will identify the threat, helping the user to remove the malware efficiently if possible.

 

What Are The Main Types of Malware?

The main types of malware mentioned below are not the only ones to exist, but are the most frequently used.

Virus

Viruses are malicious software which will usually infiltrate a device through being attached to a document or file. This document or file must support macros, meaning that it can execute the code and spread from one host to another easily.

If a virus is downloaded, it will not appear to the user until they open the file. They are designed to disrupt how a system operates, making them hard to remove and potentially leading to a loss of data.

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Trojan Virus

A trojan virus will infiltrate a device by being disguised as a beneficial software program. Once downloaded by a user, the trojan virus will gain access to their personal data. It will then delete, modify or block the data, meaning it may be lost permanently. This can also affect the operational system of the device, reducing it’s performance.

Trojan viruses, unlike other types of malware, are not designed to replicate, meaning they only cause the damage when they are originally opened.

Worms

When worms are installed, they replicate on a rapid basis and spread through every device connected to a network. They do not require host programs in order to disseminate, as they infiltrate the device through a downloaded file or network connection.

After this has taken place, they will rapidly multiply, causing major disruption to the operational system of a device leading to data loss.

Adware

Adware is a type of malicious software which is used to collect data usage from a device. Afterwards, adware will provide the user with personalised, appropriate advertisements. Users may not always be aware that this type of malware is dangerous, or even that it has been installed on their device.

This type of malware will redirect a user’s browser to sites which ay be deemed unsafe, containing additional viruses such as trojan viruses or spyware. In addition to this, adware can reduce the speed a system operates at. As not all adware is necessarily malicious, users should have protection which scans for these programs on a regular basis to increase security levels.

Spyware

Spyware is a particularly dangerous type of malware, running secretly on a user’s device and then reporting findings to a remote user. It aims to target sensitive and personal information, granting remote access to online predators and severely disrupting a device’s operational system.

Keyloggers are specific types of spyware which records keystrokes. This means it reveals passwords and personal information to attackers, providing them with the ability to access their accounts.

Fileless Malware

Fileless malware is memory resistant malware, meaning that it operates off of a device’s memory. This is in place of malware operating from a victim’s files saved to a hard drive.

It can be particularly difficult to detect as there are no actual files to scan. This also increases the difficulty of of forensics as it is fileless, meaning it disappears when a device is restarted. Having protection which constantly scans for malware can help to prevent fileless malware from infiltrating a device.

Ransomware

Ransomware will gain access to personal and sensitive information within the system of a device. It will then encrypt the information it has accessed, meaning that the user will be unable to access it. Hackers will then demand money in return for the exchange of their data.

This is a common variation of phishing, which a user will download through clicking a link which appears to be legitimate. The cybercriminal can then encrypt the information the user will need access to and only unlock it when they receive money in exchange.