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Top 10 ways to prevent Malware attacks

Last updated on Jan 10,2024 370 Views

Arya Karn
A bit of nerd, a lot absurd. Making technology easy for you. A bit of nerd, a lot absurd. Making technology easy for you.

Hello everyone, your digital life must be protected from the ever-changing cyber threat scenario. The more we use the internet for everything from personal relationships to business dealings, the more we need to be careful about what information about ourselves we share online. In this blog I will be telling you about Top 10 ways to protect your system from Malware attacks. I will be covering topics like:

What is Malware?


Malware, short for “malicious software,” is a general term used to describe a variety of harmful or intrusive software programs created with the intent to compromise the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of information, render services unusable, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems. Malware can range from annoying adware that inundates you with pop-up ads to devastating ransomware that locks up your files until you pay a ransom.

History of Malware 

Malware has evolved from computer viruses to state-sponsored cyberattacks. Malicious software designed to harm, exploit, or compromise computers and networks is called “malware”. The early 1970s “Creeper” virus, an experimental program that displayed a message but did not hurt, was the first malware. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, malware like the “Morris Worm” and “Melissa” virus became popular. Early forms propagated via floppy disks and email attachments, taking advantage of human curiosity and inexperience.

Malware became more complicated and widespread as the internet grew. The early 2000s saw the rise of worms like “Blaster” and “Sasser,” which infected millions of PCs via Windows OS vulnerabilities. At the same time, “Mydoom” became the fastest-spreading email worm.  In the late 2000s and 2010s, broad, disruptive attacks gave way to focused, financially motivated vulnerabilities. “Conficker,” a 2008 worm, could remotely control a botnet of hacked machines. This period also witnessed the rise of ransomware assaults like “CryptoLocker,” which encrypts files and demands payment.

State-sponsored malware like “Stuxnet,” which targeted Iranian nuclear facilities, and “Flame,” a cyber-espionage tool, showed countries’ growing cyberwarfare involvement. Meanwhile, spyware like “Mirai” used IoT devices to execute large DDoS attacks.  Mobile malware was created to steal data or offer annoying advertisements as cellphones became more popular. Cybercriminals discovered “banking Trojans” and “cryptojacking” malware that secretly mines cryptocurrency.

More complex malware uses AI and machine learning to avoid detection. New threats develop periodically in this threat landscape. Continuous cybersecurity updates and enhancements are needed to counter malware.  Malware history reflects technology, geopolitics, and social norms. This sobering tale reminds us to stay attentive and proactive in digital security.

While understanding the concepts of Cyber security threats and its types for this blog, I went through this amazing video telling me about types of cyber security threats and prevention. Don’t forget to watch it.

Types of Malware:

Ransomware

It encrypts files and demands a ransom to decrypt them. It is one of the most financially harmful forms of cybercrime, as it affects individuals, corporations, and governments.

  • Phishing emails, exploit kits, or malicious downloads are common ways to spread ransomware.
  • Within, it encrypts files with strong cryptographic techniques, making them unavailable.
  • Ransom message: A ransom message demands Bitcoin for the decryption key.
  • Payment and Decryption: The victim may pay the ransom and hope the attacker provides the key. Paying doesn’t ensure file retrieval.

Fileless malware

It runs in memory rather than on the hard drive. Fileless malware uses built-in tools like PowerShell or Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) to run malicious commands or scripts from memory.

  • Stealthy: Fileless malware leaves fewer traces, like files or registry changes, for typical antivirus software to detect.
  • Unless it uses persistence techniques, its functions are transitory and stop when the system reboots.
  • Fileless malware often uses the victim’s installed software, making it hard to distinguish from normal activity.
  • Complex Attack Vectors: Spear phishing, malicious downloads, and infected websites are common entry points for this virus, which can also be part of multi-stage attacks with file-based and fileless components.

Spyware

Spyware stealthily monitors and collects data from a computer or network without permission. Spyware threatens user privacy rather than computer or data damage, unlike viruses and worms. Spyware can record keystrokes, internet history, emails, user IDs, passwords, and financial data.Free software may include malware as a “feature.”

  • Phishing: Emails that deceive users into downloading spyware
  • Drive-by Downloads: Malicious websites automatically download spyware.
  • Antivirus-looking pop-ups can install spyware.

Adware

Adware, short for advertising-supported software, automatically shows or downloads pop-up ads or banners while a user is online or using the software. Adware is sometimes included with free software or services to generate cash for producers. Some adware is harmless, offering free software in exchange for advertisements, but not all is created equal.

  • Intrusive ads: Adware offers ads that disrupt the user experience. Pop-ups, banners, and new browser windows may display these advertisements.
  • Many adware applications capture surfing history and personal information to serve customized advertising. Data collection can occasionally violate user privacy.
  • Adware drains system resources, delaying your computer or mobile device.
  • Adware is sometimes included with other software, notably free or shareware, and may not be mentioned during installation.

Trojans

Trojans, or Trojan horses, are malware that masquerades as legitimate or harmless to fool people into installing it. Trojans spread through deception, unlike viruses and worms. After installation, they can do malicious operations without the user’s knowledge.

  • Phishing emails: Trojans are typically disguised as emails that ask users to open attachments or click links.
  • Free software bundles some Trojans, which are loaded when the user installs the genuine software.
  • Drive-by Downloads: A Trojan download may result from visiting a rogue website.
  • Social Engineering: Attackers may impersonate customer care or tech assistance to install Trojans.

Worms

Worms self-replicate and spread to other computers without human intervention. Worms are independent programs, unlike viruses, which attach to files. To spread, they exploit security weaknesses or utilize social engineering. Key elements of computer worms:

  • Self-replicating: After infecting a system, a worm copies itself to other systems without human intervention.
  • Network Aware: Many worms scan networks for vulnerabilities and spread.
  • Standalone: Worms are standalone programs that don’t need files.


One should proceed with the installation of anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

Anti-virus and anti-spyware software applications are designed to conduct thorough examinations of computer files with the purpose of detecting and eliminating malicious software, commonly referred to as malware. Ensure that you:

Now we will see, how to prevent malware attacks in the following ways:

1. Keep Your Operating System and Software Updated

Why It’s Important- Security flaws in outdated software are frequently exploitable by malware.

How to Do It:

  • Put your operating system on auto-update.
  • Always use the most recent versions of the programs you use.

Tips

  • Before installing updates that may require a restart, you should save any open documents.
  • If you want to prevent installing malicious software, you should verify that the updates are coming from a reliable source.

2. Use reputable antivirus and Antimalware Software

Why It’s Important- These applications can identify, isolate, and delete many forms of malicious software.

How to Do It:

  • Install reputable antivirus and antimalware software.
  • Keep it updated and perform regular scans.

Tips:

  • It is not recommended to concurrently utilize two antivirus solutions, as this may result in potential conflicts between the software applications.
  • Enable the functionality of real-time scanning in order to provide uninterrupted safeguarding.

3. Be Cautious with Email Attachments and Links

Why It’s Important- Email is a common distribution channel for malware.

How to Do It:

  • Don’t open attachments or click on links from unknown or untrusted sources.
  • Verify the email’s legitimacy by contacting the sender through a separate channel, if necessary.

Tips:

  • Hover over links to see where they actually lead before clicking.
  • Use email security features like spam filters to catch malicious emails.

4. Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Why It’s Important- Weak passwords are easier for malware to crack, leading to unauthorized access.

How to Do It:

  • Use a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Don’t reuse passwords across multiple sites.

Tips:

  • Consider using a password manager to keep track of your passwords.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible.

5. Secure Your Network

Why It’s Important- An insecure network can be an entry point for malware.

How to Do It:

  • Use strong encryption for your Wi-Fi.
  • Change default usernames and passwords for network devices.

Tips:

  • Turn off WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), as it has known vulnerabilities.
  • Isolate guest networks from your main network.

6. Be Wary of Social Engineering Attacks

Why It’s Important- Social engineering can trick you into installing malware or giving away sensitive information.

How to Do It:

  • Be skeptical of unsolicited messages or calls.
  • Never give out personal information unless you can verify the identity of the requester.

Tips:

  • Educate yourself and others about common social engineering techniques.
  • Always double-check sources, even if they seem reputable.

7. Disable Auto-Run Features for Removable Media

Why It’s Important- Auto-run can automatically execute malicious code from USB drives or CDs.

How to Do It:

  • Disable auto-run in your operating system’s settings.

Tips:

  • Always scan removable media for malware before accessing its content.

8. Limit User Privileges

Why It’s Important- Malware often needs administrative privileges to infect a system.

How to Do It:

  • Use a standard or limited user account for daily tasks.
  • Only use an administrator account when necessary.

Tips:

  • Prompt for a password when changing settings or installing new software.

9. Backup Your Data Regularly

Why It’s Important- In case of a malware attack, backups allow you to restore your files without paying a ransom.

How to Do It:

  • Use automated backup solutions.
  • Store backups in a separate, secure location.

Tips:

  • Test your backups periodically to ensure they can be restored successfully.
  • Consider encrypting sensitive backups.

10. Stay Informed and Educated

Why It’s Important- New types of malware are constantly being developed.

How to Do It:

  • Keep up with the latest security news.
  • Educate yourself and others on safe online practices.

Tips:

  • Subscribe to reputable cybersecurity newsletters.
  • Participate in security awareness training.

By doing these tips and maintaining a proactive approach to security, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to malware.

Following the 10 security tips outlined in this blog will lay a strong foundation for malware prevention. Remember, however, that cybersecurity is not a set-and-forget endeavor. It requires ongoing effort and attention to adapt to new types of malware and hacking techniques. Be proactive, be informed, and be secure. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Your digital security matters, not just to you but to everyone you interact with. Make it a priority—today and every day. We have the best solution waiting for you, as this course will definitely be of great use regarding cyber security attacks. For more interesting blogs, don’t forget to check out our Edureka website. Happy Learning!

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Top 10 ways to prevent Malware attacks

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