There are countless threats to your computer on the Internet. Data plans are getting relatively more affordable in most major cities across the globe. It allows most people to connect to the Internet throughout the day. The benefits that we enjoy using the Internet comes with risks as well.
The recent years saw the emergence of different malicious software, popularly known as malware. Along with this, experts are warning us of the dangers of our personal information being stolen and used by questionable entities.
These different threats can be confusing to anyone. In this article, we'll explore what malware and spyware are.
What is Malware?
As mentioned above, malware is the contraction of "malicious software". It is any piece of software that was developed to cause harm to people, devices, and data. It is an umbrella term for any software which intentionally inflicts damages to systems. A hacker, a criminal organization, and even government agencies looking into data in computers can create malware.
Examples of Malware
There are several types of malware around. A popular kind of malicious software is the virus. It is typically an executable file which can spread uncontrollably. It can damage a system's core functionality or corrupt and delete files on your computer. One such famous virus is the "I Love You" virus which spread in 2000.
Another dangerous type of malware is ransomware. Others may also know it as scareware. It is purely created to monetize malware as it spreads directly. When ransomware downloads on your system, it will begin to lock the computer and even encrypt necessary files. Some might even threaten to erase all the data on the computer. The computer can only be released and decrypted when a ransom is paid typically using a cryptocurrency such as bitcoin. The last few years saw the worst of ransomware such as CryptoLocker and WannaCry.
Signs that your Computer is Malware-Infected
There are tell-tale signs that your computer is malware-infected beyond the detection of your anti-malware. A noticeable slowing down of your computer is one visible signal. It is especially noticeable if you have a few software running but the computer is running quite slow.
Moreover, pop-up messages, annoying ads, and strange changes in your browser is due to infection by malware. Anything that disrupts your usual workflow will need a more in-depth investigation. A thorough scan using your security suite might save your computer from further damage.
What is Spyware?
Spyware is a type of malware with a specific purpose. Just as its name suggests, the primary goal is to spy and monitor activities and data on the computer and its users. It lives on the computer and tries to be as undiscoverable as possible. The longer it can remain in the machine, the more information it can collect. Most spyware is small enough to fly under the radar which means it is less likely to use much resources and processes. Because of this, it is harder to discover and identify.
The danger lies in its ability to discover personal and confidential information. The ubiquitous nature of computers and the Internet made most people careless about their data. Most users will not think twice about sharing and storing sensitive data in their computers. Financial documents, intimate photos, and login information are left on the computer without any encryption or security protection in check.
It is what hackers and criminals are waiting to exploit. As it scans the computer and waits for sensitive information, it continuously sends the data it collects to a third-party server where criminals can access your information at will.
Examples of Spyware
Unlike most popular malware, spyware usually ships with seemingly legitimate software. The most common examples are the proliferation of fake antivirus products. Some may even pretend to be anti-spyware programs which fool users quite easily.
Signs that your Computer is Spyware-Infected
While it is difficult to identify if your computer has a spyware infection, there are things to observe. Spyware programs try to use the least resources as possible. However, careful observation of the processes in your computer will reveal questionable programs running alongside your apps.
Moreover, what spyware cannot hide is its communication with the server where it sends the information it collects. It is best to use a network monitoring tool to check if an application is continuously using your bandwidth. Some can even identify which apps are using the most bandwidth.
You can read more about spyware here.
How Spyware and other Malware Work Together
More often than not, spyware will not stay on your computer for long and gather information. Some spyware may not collect enough confidential information such as bank accounts. However, it can open vulnerabilities in the computer for other malware to take advantage.
The information collected by the spyware can lead to being scammed. Some may even make way for adware to get into the PC which can steal precious resources. With enough information, some may collect information about your computer's vulnerabilities which ransomware can exploit such as WannaCry Ransomware.
How to Protect Yourself?
An anti-malware such as MalwareFox should complement your main security suite. It specializes in scanning known and unknown threats that might attack your machine. It can even protect your browser from adware and other annoying pop-ups. MalwareFox is powerful enough to protect you from ransomware. Interestingly, it is lightweight enough to keep running in the background for real-time protection.
In cases when you are already infected, run MalwareFox to root out the spyware hiding in your computer. You may want to check if your email, such as Gmail, is compromised and take steps to protect it from hackers. Even your social media accounts, such as Facebook, should be secured from potential threats. You should be aware of what to do if it gets hacked as well.
Knowing the existence of threats and what they do are the first steps in protecting yourself. Robust security applications, such as MalwareFox, can help you strengthen security on your computer. Vigilance and healthy computer habits will help you maintain a malware-free machine.