Malware is short for "malicious software." Malware is any uninvited software that behaves negatively on one's computer or device.
When communicating with staff, many opportunities present themselves for the introduction and spread of malware. A malware infection can cause major damage to company data and a loss of valuable time. The following are common ways that malware is spread:
- Opening shared files.
- Downloading software.
- Accessing websites.
Depending on the type of malware, the following may happen:
- Files may be corrupted.
- Information may be deleted off hard drives.
- Unwanted programs may run in the background.
- One's identity may be stolen.
- One's privacy may be invaded.
Malware may present itself in different ways. It may be malicious and damaging, it may be a simple prank, or it may even be inappropriate marketing. Some malware is simply the misuse of beneficial programs. The following is a list of common malware:
- Infectious malware:
- Viruses are executable programs attached to files.
- Worms are self-spreading executable programs.
- Concealed malware:
- Rootkits insure the malware stays on the system undetected.
- Backdoor malware bypasses authentication.
- Trojan horses are often used for marketing, and usually affect the web browser. They pose as something attractive to lure a person to open them.
- Profit seeking threats:
- Spyware steals information about the user.
- Adware is integrated with software and contains ads. Adware may also include spyware.
- Bots perform automatic activity over the Internet.
- Good bots include the Captcha applications that protect systems from spammers.
- Bad bots include email address harvesters.
- Cookies are used to remember authentication and for web personalization, but:
- Tracking cookies track browser activity.
- Poorly managed cookies may provide opportunities for hackers to intercept information.
There are many applications available to clean systems of malware and to protect systems from infection. Every computer should be protected with:
- Virus protection.
- Adware and malware protection.
- Firewall protection.
These systems are comprised of two parts:
- The engine.
- The database.
The engine is the program itself. It scans the computer, stores settings, and schedules scans. Database updates include information about the newest viruses. New malware is written regularly, so database updates are provided frequently.
To properly protect a system, the database should be updated before every scan, and the system should be scanned regularly.