All you need to know about malware

Poster of malware for Cyber Security Awareness Month

Malware is an abbreviation of “malicious software”. Any piece of software created with malicious intent is considered malware. That intent usually includes denial of service, data theft or holding systems and their data ransom.

There are different types of malware, including viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, scareware, worms, rootkits and adware.

Understanding how malware works can help mitigate against it and better still recover from an infection.

virus is the most popular form of malware, and most people unintentionally refer to most types of malware as a virus. A virus is a type of malware that is self-executing and has the ability to infect other files or programs. A trojan, on the other hand, is legitimate software that has a malicious code embedded in it. A worm is a self-propagating malware, and as such, is more difficult to eradicate. Spyware, as the name suggests, is a malware used to collect information about the user without the user’s knowledge. Ransomware is a type of malware that directly translates to financial gain. As a result, there has been an increase in this type of infection in recent years. Ransomware is a type of malware that holds the user’s data hostage by encrypting it and demands money to decrypt the data. A rootkit is the most stealthy malware, as it installs itself deep into the core of the operating system, making it difficult for anti-malware applications to detect it.

Methods of preventing Malware

Antimalware applications: Symantec, Kaspersky and Windows Defender are some examples of anti-malware that can be installed on your computers. It is also essential to ensure that they are up-to-date, as the threats are continuously evolving.

Website reputation: Be wary of the websites you visit. There are tools that can be used to check the reputation of a website, as cybercriminals use compromised websites as a platform to spread malware. Some examples include VirusTotal and Websense.

Know your software: Just like you’re extra careful about what you eat, the same attitude should be exhibited towards the applications we install on our devices. Be sure to know and verify the source of the application and that there haven't been any alterations to the application by a third party.

Plug and Scan: Ensure that all externally connected devices to your device are properly scanned. USB drives especially are agents of distribution of malware.

Recommended Antivirus Tool:

Symantec is currently the only Antivirus that the ITS supports and Students are welcome to get a copy here by signing into their eCentennial.

Other free security tools:​

  • Avast!
  • AVG AntiVirus
  • McAfee Security Scan
  • Norton Security Scan