Trojan, viruses, worms, spyware… Some of these things have odd names, and some just sound scary. One thing they all have in common, though, is that you don’t want them near your desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
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Malware or malicious software is a harmful program that breaches a computer system. It can inflict harm on both individual and networked computers. Thus, a virus, spyware, worm, or Trojan horse are all examples of malware.
Full disclosure, since the end of 2007, the number of sites with malware has always been more than 100,000. Notably, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the number of malware sites went up by a fair bit.
Recent Google reports show that around 2,500 new websites are hacked every week, usually because they link to malware pages or have codes that hackers can use.
Moreover, the ease of the Internet of Things and home automation comes with a price. While the reality of a smart home is appealing, it’s important to keep in mind that IoT is a prime target for malware. According to the most recent data on malware, there are over 20 million Internet of Things malware attacks in 2020.
Notably, 75% of IoT malware infects routers, which has made them the most popular target for hackers. Once malware contaminates your router, the infection can spread to the local area network and infect dozens of other devices.
True, malware has been around for a long time, but it has become more adept in its ability to spread, hide from detection, and encrypt files. New-age malware uses a combination of advanced distribution techniques that make it easy to spread new types like encrypters that make reverse engineering very hard.
As it continues to be one of the major threats to organizations and individuals, it is not surprising that attacks are growing more complex, difficult to prevent, and costly to their victims.
So, how can we keep safe online and avoid problems with malware? We’ve put together some of the most important things you should do to stay safe online.
1. Update Regularly
The developer of most business software releases updates on a regular basis. Some of these updates may be security patches meant to shore up the program against threats and dangers. If a software update is up, be sure to do so ASAP.
These updates are security fixes to address previous vulnerabilities. Installing these updates will strengthen your system’s defenses against malware. Similarly, make sure your anti-virus software is always current.
2. Use Authentication Methods
The likelihood of an attack at these nodes is already high due to turnover, infrequent password updates, and lax controls.
To prevent malware attacks, your passwords should be a minimum of eight characters long and must contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, digits, and symbols. Never save your password when the browser prompts you to. If you feel you need to, you can use a password manager.
3. Before Clicking, Think Twice
Anything “free” is dangerous. Adware programs that make malicious pop-ups can install spyware to take over your browser and get your personal information.
Although it’s tempting to take advantage of a free video editor or video game, think twice before doing so unless you know for sure that you can trust the website providing it.
Malware is commonly spread through downloads, so be wary of both the content and the source of any files you want to avail online.
4. Secure Your Network with a Premium VPN
Protect your privacy by always connecting to the internet using a virtual private network (VPN). When you’re using other programs, streaming, and surfing the web, a VPN will quietly run in the background.
If you connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots in places like cafes, airports, and parks, your private information could be at risk. When you use a VPN on your devices, a VPN’s 256-bit AES encryption keeps you safe.
A premium VPN like ExpressVPN is constantly on the lookout for possible threats to your security and privacy and implementing countermeasures. In light of this, ExpressVPN built a verification system to eliminate the possibility of virus attacks.
5. Limit your file-sharing
Some sites and apps make it easy for users to share files with each other. Unfortunately, these sites and apps don’t do much to protect you from malware.
If you use these file-sharing methods to send or receive files, keep an eye out for malware. Malware often looks like a popular film, soundtrack, game, or program. It is best to limit your file-sharing and think twice when clicking unknown links.