What is Malware?
Malware aka malicious code are unwanted files or programs that can cause harm to a computer or compromise data stored on a computer.
Malware is classified as Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses.
- Worms are a type of virus that self-propagates from computer to computer. Its functionality is to use all of your computer’s resources, which can cause your computer to stop responding.
- Viruses have the ability to damage or destroy files on a computer system and are spread by sharing an already infected removable media, opening malicious email attachments, and visiting malicious web pages.
- Trojan Horses are computer programs that are hiding a virus or a potentially damaging program. It is not uncommon that free software contains a Trojan horse making a user think they are using legitimate software, instead the program is performing malicious actions on your computer.
Following these tips can help you reduce the risks of Malware:
- Install and maintain Antivirus software. An antivirus software can identify malware and protect your computer against it. After installation, it’s always important to keep the antivirus software up-to-date because attackers keep creating new viruses and other forms of malicious code.
- Keep software updated. Install new software updates such that the attackers don’t take advantage of the known vulnerabilities. Consider enabling automatic updates on your computer if the option is available.
- Take precautions before opening links and attachments. Be wary of unsolicited email attachments and use caution when clicking on email links, even if they seem to come from people you know.
- Block pop-ups and adverts. These may display windows that contain malware. Install extensions and add-ons such ad-block that prevent malicious pop-ups from displaying.
- Use an account with limited permissions. In case you get infected when using an account with limited permissions, chances of the malicious code spreading and escalating to the administrative account are reduced.
- Use strong passwords and change them regularly. If you believe that your computer is infected, change your passwords immediately. Strong Passwords make it difficult for hackers to crack.
- Install and enable a firewall. Firewalls thwart some malicious traffic before it enters your computer. Make sure that you enable the pre-installed firewall on your computer.
- Use anti-spyware software. Spyware is unwanted software that infiltrates your computing device, stealing your internet usage data and sensitive information. Anti-spyware tools identify and remove spyware from your computer.
- Avoid using Public Wi-Fi. Unsecured public Wi-Fi may allow attackers to intercept your device’s network traffic, gain access and plant malicious code onto your device.
- Monitor user accounts. Look for any unauthorized use of, or unusual activity on, your accounts—especially banking accounts. If you identify unauthorized or unusual activity, contact your account provider immediately.
- Backup Data. Regularly back up your documents, photos, and important email messages to the cloud or to an external hard drive. In the event of an infection, your information will not be lost.
How do you recover if you become a victim of malicious code?
Using antivirus software is the best way to defend your computer against malicious code. If you think your computer is infected, run your antivirus software program. Ideally, your antivirus program will identify any malicious code on your computer and quarantine them so they no longer affect your system. You should also consider these additional steps:
- Minimize the damage. If you are at work and have access to an information technology (IT) department, contact them immediately. The sooner they can investigate and “clean” your computer, the less likely it is to cause additional damage to your computer—and other computers on the network. If you are on a home computer or laptop, disconnect your computer from the internet; this will prevent the attacker from accessing your system.
- Remove the malicious code. If you have antivirus software installed on your computer, update the software and perform a manual scan of your entire system. If you do not have antivirus software, you can purchase it online or in a computer store. If the software cannot locate and remove the infection, you may need to reinstall your operating system, usually with a system restore disk. Note that reinstalling or restoring the operating system typically erases all of your files and any additional software that you have installed on your computer. After reinstalling the operating system and any other software, install all of the appropriate patches to fix known vulnerabilities.