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What is malware and how can you protect yourself from it?

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what is a malware

In order to fully understand what malware is and better combat it here is an overview of the different types of malware and the signs of an infection. We will then explain to you what an antivirus protects you, we will share with you our tips for getting rid of a virus in an emergency, and we will see how to protect yourself from it in the future.

What is malware?

Malware, or “malicious software” in French, covers a set of techniques and tools aimed at damaging the computer hardware of their victims, silently exploiting their resources, extorting money and / or to steal data. It is a generic term that groups together the following threats:

  • The viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are malicious codes and programs that affect the operation of a machine that can multiply on a local network. Trojans are usually embedded in cracked software and allow the installation of backdoors, useful for stealing data or turning a victim’s PC into a botnet, a zombie computer that can be useful in the context of computer attacks. large-scale.
  • The adware called ”  adware  ” display pop-up advertisements on the screen. Most of the time, this is software that looks normal, but continuously delivers ads to the screen, a source of profit for developers.
  • The spyware is malware that installs quietly on the computer without the knowledge of the user and transmits all activities to the author of the software. Here we find the keyloggers that can retain all keystrokes and transmit them to cybercriminals in order to steal personal information.
  • The ransomware, or “rançongiciels” are a well-spread type of malware at this point that installs on the PC of a person, and blocks its operation or figure important data. A ransom is then demanded by the victim to get their hands on it.
  • The achievements are a family of malware that enters PCs infected via vulnerabilities and security holes in software or in the system. The best way to overcome this is to keep Windows, it’s software and tools up to date as often as possible.
  • The cryptomonad miners require the use of malware to break into remote PCs and take advantage of the CPU and graphics card to undermine a cryptomonnaie like Bitcoin. Cryptojacking, with thousands of infected PCs, allows cyber crooks to make money.
  • The rootkit is a set of tools that allow cybercriminals to gain remote access to infected computers. These attacks are more devious because they directly access the administration rights of the hacked PC, making its detection more difficult.

These attacks, as diverse as they may be, can come from individual hackers or teams of criminals, online advertising services, or, in some attacks, governments. The objectives may be purely monetary but may have more malicious purposes, such as the theft of personal data, the transformation of the victim’s PC into a botnet, or blackmail and identity theft.

What are the signs of an infection?

Despite the best efforts and up-to-date antivirus, malware can still infect a computer and alter its functioning. In the absence of certainty, certain signs can be synonymous with malware infection and manifest themselves in several ways:

  • The PC experiences repeated slowdowns or freezes. If a heavy application can be the cause, malware can also be responsible.
  • Looping reboots and blue screens of death that make the computer unusable.
  • Some programs become unusable, restart suddenly, or display unusual error messages.
  • Files are suddenly encrypted, cannot be accessed, and a warning message demands a ransom.
  • The activity on the local network and on the Internet connection seems saturated and very slow, with no heavy programs or updates going on. Likewise, if the router’s LEDs are constantly blinking, it may indicate suspicious activity.

While these symptoms can be caused by faulty software, a conflict between software, or the like, it is important to watch for these potential signs of infection. When in doubt, it is always best to rule out malware which can be dangerous for your system, your personal data, and your finances.

How to get rid of malware effectively?

Once the PC is infected, users have several options to remove the malware in question and get back to a healthy system. To do this, certain steps are essential.

As a first step and whatever the context, it is strongly recommended to disconnect your computer or device from the Internet by turning off the Wi-Fi or by unplugging your Ethernet cable. You should also consider disconnecting the computer from the local network.

The next step is to properly identify the malware in question. If adware manifests itself easily, attacks are more devious and silent. Among the most formidable malware, ransomware is legion. They have a specific decryption solution for each of them, hence the need to know the reflexes to adopt in order to identify ransomware with precision. Good online research thus makes it possible to put a name and to find more specific solutions.

Tools are also provided to get rid of the most common malware for free, such as Eset online scanner or AdwCleaner, which effectively detects and removes spyware, unwanted, and adware. You just have to run a simple system scan to find out what malware has been detected on your machine, which only takes a few minutes.

AdwCleaner

Analysis results with AdwCleaner
Likewise, an up-to-date antivirus solution helps protect yourself and remove malware from your computer. Generally, two cases arise with, on the one hand, those who keep the Windows Defender antivirus by default and the users who are moving towards a third-party antivirus, free as well as paid. While Windows protection is increasingly effective against malware, some antiviruses stand out with better performance, lower resource consumption, and additional features.

In the most extreme cases or having no solutions yet known, reinstallation of the system is then necessary. Beforehand, it is advisable to properly safeguard your most important personal and professional data. Likewise, if the files are encrypted due to ransomware, keeping them on an external medium will eventually allow them to be decrypted when a solution is found.

Good advice to protect yourself well

The means of prevention make it possible to limit the risk of infection and minimize exposure to malware. To do this, here is a non-exhaustive list of best practices to adopt to protect yourself against malware:

  • Keep your PC and software up to date. Indeed, some malware uses security holes left by software and tools that have kept an outdated version. It is therefore strongly recommended to keep your PC up to date via Windows Update, but also to check that web browsers, and tools like Flash and Java, are.
  • Regularly back up your data! And this, on several physical media as well as in the Cloud, via online storage providers such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If the local data is corrupted, it is sufficient to restore the most recent backup, useful in limiting the impact of a malware attack.
  • Choose a suitable antivirus solution, Windows Defender, or another free or paid antivirus. Defensive shields and real-time scans help intercept and remove even the latest malware. To do this, regular updates are advised.
  • Acquire good reflexes. Malware mainly comes from the e-mail box, visited websites, and downloaded files. It is therefore important to be aware of spam and phishing to sort out healthy emails and those that pose a threat. Other tips include making sure you don’t install cracked software, only open attachments from known senders, or browse secure websites.

Social engineering is also widely used to “spoil” new machines. These are all the techniques and tools implemented to arouse fear, pity, or greed in order to infect a machine and find an interesting profile, via data theft or the exploitation of resources for mining cryptocurrencies. It is therefore important to be wary of false profiles, fallen rewards, and messages that radiate fear.

If you are the victim of a malware attack, it is possible to lodge a complaint with the nearest police station or gendarmerie brigade. 

Shivam Singh
Founder of the TechGrits, has always looked at technology as a piece of knots. From an early age connected to the technological world, this is literally your dream job.

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