Malware is one of the most common causes of network security breaches and is something everyone who uses an internet connection should be aware of. Whether you’re browsing using a personal connection or are hooked up via a company network, the risks of malware are very real. 

Defending against malware is a necessary but complex process made up of many different defence protocols to guard against the different forms that malware takes. 

What is Malware? 

Malware, or ‘malicious software’, is a piece of software that has been specifically designed to facilitate unauthorized attacks on networks to compromise data stored there. This illegal data access then allows cybercriminal groups to leverage companies into paying a ransom or they may simply sell the stolen data on the black market. 

Malware is usually introduced to a target network via phishing, malicious email attachments or downloads, but can also use compromised flash drives and social media channels to gain access. 

What are the Different Types of Malware?

While there are lots of different forms of malware circulating on the internet at any given time, they fall into some distinct categories. Seven of the most common malware types are as follows:

Ransomware

Ransomware is perhaps the most infamous type of malware. Used by cybercriminals regularly, ransomware does exactly what the name suggests. Once a network has been infected, critical data is frozen and a ransom is demanded. This can range from a few hundred dollars to multiple millions, depending on who the criminals have targeted.  

Spyware

Spyware is a form of malware that anonymously collects user data as they go about their regular browsing habits. Operating without the user’s knowledge or consent, spyware gatherings things like passwords, pins, payment information and private messages. This data is then often sold on the black market to be used fraudulently. 

Trojans 

Trojans get their name from the infamous Trojan horse used by the ancient Greeks. Where the original had soldiers hidden within, a modern-day Trojan contains nasty bits of code aimed at harvesting your data.

Disguised as a legitimate programme or download, a Trojan will spring into action once the infected download has been installed, compromising your network.

Worms

Worms are deployed to target vulnerable operating systems by embedding and installing themselves in the target network. They can gain access in several ways: via unintentional software weak spots, through backdoors built into software and through corrupted flash drives. Once they are in place they can do things like launch DDoS attacks, conduct ransomware attacks and steal secure data. 

Adware

Adware is similar to spyware in that once installed it will anonymously track users, gathering data as it does. The difference is that instead of targeting sensitive data like passwords and payment details, it gathers data to determine which ads to show them.

The real issue here is privacy. The data gathered is highly detailed, outlining personal information like names, addresses and contact info, as well as who their friends are, what interests they have and where they travel to. Once a comprehensive profile has been established, the data is sold to advertisers without their consent. While this is a nuisance rather than a direct security threat, many adware examples can also run code and download other malicious files.

Virus

Viruses are pieces of complex code that insert themselves into applications and programmes that execute when the app is running. Once a virus becomes active on the target network it can be used to launch DDoS and ransomware attacks as well as harvesting sensitive data.

Unlike Trojan horses, viruses cannot work unless their host app is running. This is what makes viruses different from other forms of malware like Trojans and worms. It’s important to remember that many instances of malware fit into several categories.

Rootkits

Rootkits are pieces of malicious software that give criminals full administrative control of a computer or network. Manifesting themselves in kernels, hypervisors, applications or firmware, they can also be used to conceal other forms of malware such as keyloggers or ransomware.

 

How to Protect Your Network From Malware


Protecting your data from malware is an important part of any cybersecurity strategy, particularly for large companies or those dealing with sensitive data. You can read our in-depth guide on
how to best protect against malware but some of the key points include:

Education

Educating all network participants on the dangers associated with malware is a crucial tool in the fight against it. The vast majority of malicious software infects computers via email and download links. Knowing how to identify the telltale signs helps avoid major security breaches.

Threat Removal

On top of everyone being aware of the risks and how to spot them, you need a solid cyber security strategy in place. Deep Secure’s Threat Removal technology is included in a variety of our products aimed at keeping networks safe from cybercriminals. Our malware protection software should be the first port of call for anyone serious about securing their data.  


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