Malicious software - also known as malware - is any software meant to harm your computer, share your data with hackers, or in any way compromise the safety of your device or your network. Malware includes adware, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, as well as classic computer viruses.
These threats can be more insidious than you think. According to cybersecurity experts Malwarebytes, key logging and stalkerware can be used to monitor your activity online, by logging the keystrokes you enter on your keyboard or even worse, recording you through your microphone.
The Most Dangerous Culprits to Look Out For
Ransomware looks for sensitive files on your computer, such as receipts, sensitive payment records, or even tax documents, and locks them from use until you pay a ransom to the hacker who instigated the attack through an untraceable payment platform.
Adware bombards your screen with pop-ups, can take over your web browser, and will slow down your system, all in the hope that you’ll click on one of these bogus sites, which of course leads to more problems.
Spyware observes and then pilfers your confidential information and data, sending it to the hackers that perpetrated the attack.
Malware is often meant to send you to bogus websites with malicious links hoping that you will click and fall deeper into the trap.
How to Avoid the Pitfalls
There are ways to avoid this trap, however. If the website looks deeply unprofessional, with many spelling errors, or the URL itself is misspelled or looks garbled, then do not click. Also, before you click the red X to close, be sure that will actually close the window and is not itself a disguised link.
Also, you should only be visiting websites that begin with "https". A site that only begins with “http” lacks SSL certification, meaning it is less secure.
Also be sure to look for the warning signs that usually indicate your problem. If your computer is slow, failing to perform as it should, or crashing frequently, you might already be dealing with a malware breach. Remember that computer viruses spread quickly, seeking out files to corrupt, and crippling your system as it makes changes along the way.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to help you deal with this problem.
First, always be sure to update your software. Essential programs need to be working at peak efficiency, and if they have not received a necessary update, they might struggle to perform. Also, be sure to secure your network. Don’t forget to enable your firewall and be sure to subscribe to a trusted Virtual Private Network, or VPN, so you know you’re browsing anonymously, keeping hackers at bay.
Finally, rely on anti-malware software. Reliable software from companies like Malwarebytes create a protective wall around your computer, your sensitive information, and your applications. Top-tier security software will observe, identify, and neutralize threats before they happen. The technology at play here actually monitors behavior of programs, learning if they intend to harm your computer and shutting them down.