What Do You Know About Malware?

Beware malware

Malware, also known as malicious code and malicious software, refers to a program that is inserted into a system, usually covertly, with the intent of compromising the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the victim’s data, applications, or operating system or otherwise annoying or disrupting the victim. Malware has become the most significant external threat to most systems, causing widespread damage and disruption, and necessitating extensive recovery efforts within most organizations.

There are five types of malware:

  • Ransomware – Ransomware is a subcategory of malware which typically will block access to computers or data until a payment is made.
  • Trojan – A Trojan is a self-contained, non-replicating program that, while appearing harmless, actually has a hidden malicious purpose. Trojans either replace existing files with malicious versions or add new malicious files to hosts.
  • Spyware – Spyware is a type of malware used to covertly observe a user’s activity and gather information about a user without their knowledge or consent.
  • Virus – A virus self-replicates by inserting copies of itself into host programs, data files or propagating through network file sharing. Viruses are often triggered through user interaction, such as opening a file or running a program.
  • Worm – A worm is a self-replicating, self-contained program that usually executes itself without user intervention.

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Slow performance
  • Unexpected computer crashes
  • Pop-up ads (even when no browser is open)
  • Excessive hard drive activity
  • New browser homepage or toolbars
  • Unexpected Antivirus disabling
  • Lost functionality

Ways To Avoid An Attack: 

  • Do not open suspicious emails oremail attachments, click on hyperlinks, etc. from unknown or known senders, or visit websites that are likely to contain malicious content
  • Do not click on suspicious web browser popup windows
  • Do not open files with file extensions that are likely to be associated with malware (e.g., .bat, .com, .exe, .pif, .vbs)
  • Do not disable malware security control mechanisms (e.g., antivirus software, content filtering software, reputation software, personal firewall) and ensure that they are continuously updated
  • Do not use administrator-level accounts for regular host operation
  • Do not download or execute applications from untrusted sources

Viruses, Trojans, Worms… Oh My!


Once you recognize that the word “malware” is a combination of “malicious” and “software,” the definition speaks for itself.

Cybercriminals use malware to infect and control computers and phones, in hopes of gathering sensitive data, stealing logins and passwords, displaying unwanted advertising or stealing identities.

Follow these steps to help protect your electronics from malware:

  • Enable automatic security updates
  • Beware of phishing attacks
  • Enable automatic anti-virus scans of portable media (e.g. USB sticks) with real-time protection
  • Heed anti-virus warnings
  • Never disable anti-virus software for the sake of speed, space or website access
  • Install trusted anti-virus software on your personal computers and smartphones

You can also protect your device with Norton Security products.

New Viruses Target Social Networking Sites, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace

The New Your Times recently published an article titled Viruses That Leave Victims Red in the Facebook. The article describes a new type of virus that targets Twitter and Facebook users. The virus hijacks a user’s social networking account and then transmits spam and viruses via emails to the victim’s Twitter or Facebook contacts. What makes these attacks so effective is that they originate from trusted sources.

As social networking viruses become more ubiquitous (Kaspersky Labs says that on some days, one in 500 links on Twitter point to bad sites that can infect an inadequately protected computer with typical viruses) it is important to be cautious. Do not click on suspicious links you receive from friends on social networking sites. If your social network account password is too simple, a fraudster can use techniques to take over the account (also known as hijacking) and send email messages to everyone in their friends list or address book. Follow these simple password security rules:

  • Don’t use a real word that can be looked up in a dictionary or a familiar pattern such as 12345.
  • Use a combination of letters numbers and special characters that can’t be connected back to any of your personal information.
  • Use upper and lower case letters and number combinations.
  • Password lengths should be 8 characters or greater.
  • Change passwords regularly.
  • Do not use the same password for all online accounts.

If you suspect a friend’s account has been compromised, do not access any suspect messages. Contact your friend directly and notifying them of the problem.