We continue our short blog series on the best ways to protect your digital life. Today we will discuss antivirus best practices.
Is there a difference between a virus and malware?
Yes and no. A virus is a type of malware. There are lots of various kinds of malware, which include some of the following:
Trojan horse/Trojan – Trojans typically do not attach themselves to files like viruses and worms. Hackers use Trojans to trick users through a form of social engineering, for example, an e-mail attachment that appears unsuspicious. There are many kinds of Trojan viruses, but they all try to steal a user’s data or take control of the user’s computer. DDoS attacks are when a Trojan takes down a network, server, or applications by flooding the system with requests for data. The goal with DDoS attacks is generally to make these resources slow or unreachable and tend to be targeted toward organizations. For example, last fall the Mirai botnet took down Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, and a few other major websites.
Worm – an independent program that replicates and quickly spreads itself from system to system without a host file. This is different from viruses which need an infected host to spread. Worms spread through devices that can be shared by users, such as CDs, or Excel documents.
Keyloggers – a type of malicious software that secretly records information you type on your keyboard, such as passwords, credit card information, or e-mails.
Spyware – a type of malicious software that secretly gathers a user’s information via an Internet connection. It is like a Trojan in that it can be installed while a user is downloading something else, for example, through peer-to-peer file swapping program.
Arming yourself with knowledge and understanding how these types of malware work is the first step to protecting your device’s health.
What are some signs I have a malware infection?
Your friends tell you they are receiving strange messages from you on social media or via email. In this case, we recommend you change your passwords immediately, and enable two-factor authentication where applicable.
Again, these are just a few of the signs your system may be infected. There are cases where your system is acting normally, but malware can be silently working in the background.
In addition to understanding how malware works and common sources that cause infection, be sure to take the following into consideration:
Cover your webcam with tape when not in use. This may sound extreme, but in the event your computer becomes compromised, hackers will use your webcam to spy on you. Yes, it has happened.