What is malware and what can you do about it?

Steve Sutcliffe
By Steve Sutcliffe
The word malware is actually the merging together of two separate words: malicious and software and once you know that, then you have pretty good idea what malware actually means.
What is malware and what can you do about it?
Malware or malicious software to give it it’s proper title, is any piece of software that is created with the specific aim or intent of causing harm to data, devices or even people. There are many different kinds of malware and chances are you’ve heard of a few. Trojans, viruses, spyware, worms, ransomware… these are all simply different types of malware.

The term was coined in the early 1990s when the introduction of the World Wide Web and commercial internet saw the impact of malware become a mainstream issue.
 
What does malware actually do?

Well as we mentioned before, malware is designed to cause harm but exactly how it does that depends on the type of malware you’re dealing with. Some malware is designed to steal, encrypt or delete important data while others are aimed at altering, hijacking or changing core computing functionality and even monitoring computer activity.

Here are some examples of different types of malware…

Trojan malware as the name suggests, is a type of malicious software that disguises itself as legitimate software. This disguise allows it to then pass through security defences and behave discreetly to create “backdoors” in security measures and ultimately allow other malware in.

On the other hand, ransomware (also sometimes called scareware) works by locking down computers or software programmes and even threatening to erase data unless a ransom demand is met. Most types of malware are very aptly named, giving you a good indication of how it’s going to behave.
 
What can you do about malware?

As different types of malware work in different ways, it’s only logical that the actions you need to take in order to stop or remove it are also different. All in all, though, the best thing you can do about malware is try and avoid it in the first place.

That means looking out for any suspicious links, emails and even websites for one thing, but it also means investing in anti-virus software too. Avoidance can only get you so far because as malware becomes more sophisticated and the people that use it gain confidence, even legitimate websites and companies can become compromised, making it harder and harder to spot and avoid malware.

Anti-malware software or anti-virus software as it is more commonly known gives you that added layer of protection that avoidance alone, just can’t deliver.

Remember: stay vigilant and if you think your business needs better protection from malware, talk to our experts on cyber security today.

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