Malware 101: What is Malware, How to Prevent Attacks, and How to Remove Malware from Your Computer

Malware is a term used to describe all sorts of malicious software that can infect your computer and cause all sorts of damage. We will discuss what malware is, how to prevent malware attacks, and how to remove malware from your computer. We will also provide tips on staying safe online and protecting your computer from these harmful programs.

Malware 101 – Table of Contents

    What is Malware?

    A computer infected with malware is known as a malware infection. It is when a computer is invaded by malware, a program or code that attacks, explores, steals, or does just about any other task an attacker might desire. Because the variety of shapes in which malware exists allows for many options to infect computers, this is simple.

    • Allow an attacker to utilize a compromised machine as a remote control platform.
    • Send spam from the infected computer to network members unaware of the infection.
    • Examine the user’s local network for critical data.

    Types of Malware

    Adware

    Adware is malware that loads advertisements on your computer without your permission. While it isn’t particularly harmful, it may be distracting because “spammy” advertising constantly pops up while you work, slowing down your PC’s performance considerably. Furthermore, these commercials might unintentionally encourage users to download additional hazardous types of malware.

    To protect your computer from Adware:

    • Always update your operating system and software regularly to avoid adware infections.
    • Install a reputable anti-malware program and run regular scans.
    • Be cautious when downloading free programs, as they may come bundled with adware.
    • Never click on pop-up advertisements.

    Viruses

    A virus is a malware that can replicate itself and spread to other computers. It can also delete files, change settings, or corrupt data on your computer. In some cases, a virus might even display fake warnings or advertisements to trick you into installing more malware.

    Viruses are often spread through email attachments or downloading infected files from the internet.

    To protect your computer from viruses:

    • Never download files from untrustworthy websites.
    • Avoid email attachments from unknown senders.
    • Install a reputable anti-virus program and run regular scans.
    • Update your operating system and software regularly.
    • Be cautious when downloading free programs, as they may come bundled with viruses.

    Fileless Malware

    Fileless malware is a type of malware that doesn’t rely on files to infect your computer. Instead, it uses legitimate programs installed on your computer to do its dirty work. Because fileless malware doesn’t use any files, it can be very difficult to detect and remove.

    Fileless malware can be hard for antivirus software to protect against. This is because it doesn’t have an executable file. But you can help protect your computer by ensuring users only have the rights they need to do their jobs. This will stop cybercriminals from using fileless malware to get employee credentials and access restricted data.

    Worms

    Worms are malware that can spread itself without any user interaction. Once a worm infects one computer, it will scan the network for other vulnerable computers and spread to those systems. Worms can cause a lot of damage because they can quickly spread across an entire network, infecting all of the computers on that network.

    Worms are often spread through email attachments or downloading infected files from the internet.

    To protect your computer from worms, avoid email attachments from unknown senders.

    • Never download files from untrustworthy websites.
    • Install a reputable anti-virus program and run regular scans.
    • Update your operating system and software regularly.
    • Be cautious when downloading free programs, as they may come bundled with worms.

    Trojans

    Trojan programs are fake programs that pretend to be something else. They aren’t viruses or worms, but they can still do a lot of damage. Trojan programs usually get into your computer through email or by being pushed to you as a link on a website. Since they rely on social engineering to get users to spread and download them, they can be more difficult to fight against than regular viruses and worms.

    The easiest way to protect your computer from trojan programs is to be cautious about the emails you open and the websites you visit.

    • Install a reputable anti-virus program and run regular scans.
    • Update your operating system and software regularly.
    • Be cautious when downloading free programs, as they may come bundled with trojans.

    Ransomware

    Ransomware is malware that encrypts your files and holds them hostage until you pay a ransom. Paying the ransom may not guarantee that you’ll get your files back, and it also supports the cybercriminals who create ransomware.

    Once your files are encrypted, you won’t be able to access or use them. Ransomware is usually spread through email attachments or by downloading infected files from the internet.

    Ransomware is often spread through email attachments or downloading infected files from the internet.

    To protect your computer from ransomware, avoid email attachments from unknown senders.

    • Never download files from untrustworthy websites.
    • Install a reputable anti-virus program and run regular scans. Update your operating system and software regularly.
    • Be cautious when downloading free programs, as they may come bundled with ransomware.

    Bots

    A bot is a software program that runs automated tasks over the internet. They can be used for good or bad purposes. For example, a weather bot could automatically send you a tweet when it’s going to rain in your area. But a bot can also be used to spread spam or malware.

    The distributed denial of service attack in 2018 that took down Twitter, Netflix, and other popular websites was caused by a botnet.

    The best way to protect your computer from bots:

    • Install a reputable anti-virus program and run regular scans.
    • Update your operating system and software regularly.
    • Add CAPTCHAs to forms on your website to make it more difficult for bots to submit them.

    Spyware

    Spyware is malware that allows cybercriminals to collect information about you without your knowledge. They can track the websites you visit, the searches you make, and the files you download. Spyware can also collect sensitive information like your passwords and credit card numbers.

    Spyware is usually installed on your computer without your knowledge, through email attachments or by downloading infected files from the internet.

    To protect your computer from spyware:

    • Avoid email attachments from unknown senders.
    • Never download files from untrustworthy websites.
    • Install a reputable anti-virus program and run regular scans. Update your operating system and software regularly.
    • Be cautious when downloading free programs, as they may come bundled with spyware

    Rootkits

    Rootkits are malware that allows cybercriminals to access your computer and its sensitive information without your knowledge. They can be used to collect information about you, track the websites you visit, and even control your computer remotely. Rootkits are usually installed on your computer without your knowledge, through email attachments, or by downloading infected files from the internet.

    To protect your computer from rootkits:

    • Avoid email attachments from unknown senders.
    • Never download files from untrustworthy websites.
    • Install a reputable anti-virus program and run regular scans. Update your operating system and software regularly.

    Be cautious when downloading free programs, as they may come bundled with rootkits.

    Types of Malware Attack Methods

    There are different ways that malware can spread to other computer systems. Malware attack definitions can include:

    • Peer to peer (P2P): Sharing files can sometimes put your computer at risk. For example, when you share music or pictures, they might not seem harmful. But, some files may contain malware. Once you open these files, the malware can infect your computer.
    • Drive-by download: Malware can be installed on your computer without your knowledge just by visiting an infected website. The malicious code can exploit vulnerabilities in your web browser or plugins to install the malware on your computer.
    • Email attachments: Malware can be spread through email attachments. These are files that are attached to an email message. The sender may seem legitimate, but the attachment might be infected. When you open the attachment, the malware can infect your computer.

    How to Prevent Malware

    There are many ways to prevent malware, including firewalls, antivirus software, and email filtering.

    • Firewalls: A firewall is a system that helps protect your computer from unauthorized access. It can be hardware or software. A hardware firewall is a physical device between your computer and the internet. A software firewall is a program that runs on your computer.
    • Antivirus software: Antivirus software is a program that helps protect your computer from viruses and other malware. It can scan your computer for malware and remove it.
    • Email filtering: Email filtering is a process of identifying and blocking email messages that are spam or contain malware.

    How to Remove Malware

    If you think your computer has been infected with malware, there are a few steps you can take to remove it.

    Download antivirus software: There are two broad sorts of antivirus software. Real-time malware scanners discover viruses as you work, while on-demand scanners like Microsoft Defender must be activated manually whenever needed.

    Scan for malware: Once you have installed antivirus software, run a full scan of your computer to find and remove any malware that may be present.

    Update your operating system and software: Malware can take advantage of vulnerabilities in your system or software. By keeping them up-to-date, you can help close these vulnerabilities and make it harder for malware to infect your computer.

    Restore from a backup: If you have a recent backup of your computer, you can restore it to an earlier state to remove any malware that may be present.

    Malware is a serious threat to your computer and its security. By taking steps to prevent malware infections and knowing how to remove malware, you can help protect your computer from these malicious programs.

    Natalie Werner
    Natalie Werner is a freelance writer, CISSP & CCSK Certified Cybersecurity specialist with over 20 years of experience in the banking industry. She's also co-founder and CEO at The Alliance for Cyber Security Excellence (The ACE), an international not -for profit organization that provides cyber security solutions to reduce risk exposure from threats like hacks or malware infections by bringing together trusted experts across various fields, including information technology (IT). As well as providing specialized operational courses on how to maintain your digital assets within IT domains such data protection, Natalie offers strategic training designed help organizations better understand their own business needs when it comes down to protecting against external risks brought about through technological advances

    Related Articles

    Android Apps with Malware Found on Play Store

    If you have an Android phone, be careful about...

    GTA Group Publishes Findings on Hermit Malware

    Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has recently published findings...

    Android Malware Can Steal Financial Data

    Three years ago, the number of malware infections had...