Cyber Security: What is Malware?

There are lots of cybercrime and hacking terms that get thrown around but do you know what they mean? And do you know whether your business is protected from malware? First off malware is software that is written specifically to harm and infect a computer or a computer network. Malware has many forms including viruses, adware, spyware, worms, trojans and ransomware.

Need some help understanding malware? Talk to our Cyber Security expert Stephen Sharkey today.

Malware Explained: Viruses: Viral Infections for Computer Programmes

Ugly, spreading in quick contagion and ultimately making your operations come to a halt, viruses are anything but pretty. Most organisations are familiar with viruses; they effectively stop your programmes from working e.g. Outlook, Excel, and internet browsers. When they infect one programme on your machine they spread, hence the name virus! Despite the name, “Anti-virus” will only ever protect your machine for approximately 40% of attacks. Anti-virus works on a 24-48 hour global detection. This means that if a new virus pops up its ugly head it may not be blocked for anything up to 48 hours… a virus can do a lot of damage in 48 hours.

Malware Explained: Ransomware taking your Business Hostage

The best thing about the malware are the naming conventions, they’re very visual! Ransomware holds you hostage, virtually threatens you and, in general, is in control of the situation. Ransomware is an advanced type of malware that restricts access to the computer system until the user pays a fee. Your screen might show a pop up warning that you have been locked out of your computer and that you can access only after paying the cybercriminal. Criminals are a merciless bunch! The cybercriminal demands a ransom to be paid in order for the restriction to be removed. Helpless victims with little or no backup are left with very few options but to get out the credit card. Ransomware is so advanced that in some instances where large organisations don’t have proper backup police have even recommended paying the ransom demanded.

The infamous CryptoLocker is one type of ransomware.

The King Pin of Ransomware: CryptoLocker

CryptoLocker, or Locky as it’s more affectionately known, where to start? It encrypts email attachments and then displays a message to offer decrypt the data file for a payment (through either bitcoin or a pre-paid cash voucher) is made by a stated deadline. The message often threatens to delete the file if the stated deadline passes. Locky is what is known as commodity malware. CryptoLocker doesn’t care who you are, its treats everyone equally. Typical payment requests are between €200 and €300 and therefore payment is often the best way to retrieve encrypted files. The relative small ransom works well because the payment wouldn’t cripple businesses or individuals.

Here’s the scary part; CryptoLocker has hundreds of friends, doing as much damage; Dridex, Clickfraud, password stealing botnets, to name a few. Cyber attacks are only getting more sophisticated, simple anti-virus and firewalls will only go so far, businesses need to be vigilant and ensure they have the best cyber security in place.

Malware Explained: What’s Spyware? & Who’s Spying on you?

Spyware is malicious software that spies on you and tracks your activities helping the hacker gather information about the victim’s system, without the consent of the victim. This is detrimental as the cybercriminal can then use your information to access your accounts, change details and act on your behalf. This is common way criminals gain access to and transfers funds into different bank accounts: they pretend to be you.

Malware Explained: Adware… will make you Hate Ads even more than you already do

Adware, for anyone who has ever been affected by it before, is extremely frustrating because it slows a computer down. Its purpose is to generate revenue for its author by monitoring which Internet sites the user visits frequently and to present feature related advertisements.
They are the “Are we there yet?” of malware: draining, annoying and repetitive.

Malware Explained: Worms, Hungry Worms

Worms eat everything in their path and breed. They replicate themselves and destroy information and files saved on the host PC. It works to eat up all the system operating files and data files on a drive. Worms are type of malware that has its victims shouting loudly and irrationally at their computer screens, inevitably close to a deadline, when they realise their files have been corrupted or deleted. The ultimate Noooooooooo…..oooooohhhhh, no no no moment.

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