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6 Nastiest Types of Malware Attacks to Watch Out for in 2021

6 Nastiest Types of Malware Attacks to Watch Out for in 2021

Most internet users never truly appreciate the damage malware can cause until they are hit with an attack. Whoever creates any type of malware out there does so with the sole intent of causing havoc. Malware can be used to kill computer systems and networks, lock you out of your system, or steal data.

A lot of people think all malware is the same. They don’t realize that malware comes in different forms, spreads differently and causes different challenges. How do I protect my computer from malware? How do I protect my website from hackers? These are questions internet users ask too often. Understanding the dynamics of malware spreads and attacks can put you in a better position to prevent or contain them. 

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Types of Malware Attacks and How to Detect Them

How many forms of malware exist? You might wonder!

Malware is often classified according to what it does or the damage it causes. According to McAfee, malware includes any kind of malicious software that is meant to destroy or exploit computer devices and networks.

That means malware types are many and limitless. Malware creation evolves with advancing technology. Cybercriminals are creating new and more sophisticated malware every day. However, there are several common forms of malware that any internet user should be aware of.

1. Viruses

Virus is the layman’s term for all malware. Even mainstream media use the term virus when referring to any kind of malware. That’s because viruses are the most prevalent malware. However, all malware programs are not viruses.

Viruses, in most cases, target the data in your computer system or website database. They corrupt data files in the system position themselves to execute when the victims execute the files. Their execution causes replication, which makes it extremely hard to clean your system. Some viruses can completely shut down your system or network. Viruses require human action for them to execute and spread.

How to Detect Viruses

Viruses are generally easy to detect. Below are some computer issues that might indicate that your computer has been infected.

  • Problems booting your computer
  • Unexplained loss of files
  • New programs and extensions that you don’t recall installing
  • Random pop-up windows
  • Slow browser
  • Warnings from anti-virus programs and firewalls

Computer viruses are no longer a big challenge nowadays. Advanced technology has enabled the creation of effective malware detection tools. The United States Cybersecurity Magazine estimates that viruses make up about 10% of all malware.

230,000 new forms of malware are produced every day

2. Worms

Most computer end-users have never heard of worms. They’d be surprised to learn that worms are one of the oldest forms of malware. They’ve been plaguing computer systems longer than viruses. Worms came with the advent of e-mails in the late nineties. Worms can destroy website if you don’t have the right website malware checkers in place

The main distinguishing characteristic of worms is they don’t require any human action to replicate. Once executed they keep spreading through your system and network. One infected computer in an office can spread worms to all the other computers in the office.

How to Detect Worms

Worms corrupt and destroy your devices, networks, files in the same way that viruses do. As such the indications of a virus infection outline above apply to detecting worms as well. There are a couple of things that are unique to worms though. Be on the look-out for the following;

  • Unexplained dwindling storage space
  • Crashing programs
  • Programs running by themselves

According to Norton, worms can create gateways for more malware to get into your system. Worms usually come as email attachments or chat messages. Once launched they exploit program vulnerabilities to spread all over your computer and network. Installing some website malware removal tools can help keep your website secure. 

3. Ransomware

Ransomware is currently one of the biggest cybersecurity threats in the world. It is a type of software that encrypts files or locks a computer system when executed. That means getting denied access to your files, website, or even your computer.

The ransomware authors and spreaders then contact their victims and demand to be paid a ransom before they restore the files or access to the locked systems. It can be used to steal critical data as well. Sometimes the hijacked data and systems are so important that an individual or company would be willing to pay the ransom to get them back.

Cryptocurrencies have made it easier for ransomware attackers to operate. They allow them to receive ransom payments anonymously.

95% of cyber attacks are caused by human error

How to Detect Ransomware

When it comes to ransomware, what you need to detect is the threat. If the attack has already occurred, you need to start looking for experts who can help you get back access to your systems and files. The good news that that ransomware attacks happen in stages. If you can detect an attack attempt in its early stages, you can thwart the attacker’s efforts.

Ransomware attacks occur in the following stages

  • Campaign
  • Infection
  • Staging
  • Scanning
  • Encryption
  • Pay

You need to detect the impending attack before it gets to the encryption stage to be able to prevent it. The campaign stage involves the attacker’s efforts to find a gateway into your computer or website. Phishing emails are the most common channel.

Here’s how the encryption process flows

In the infection stage, malicious software gets downloaded into your system. That means your system is now compromised, but your files are not encrypted yet. You still have access to them.

In the staging stage, the malicious software creates connections with the attacker’s command server. This is now the attacker taking control of your systems. This connection also allows the attacker to receive the encryption key once your files have been encrypted. That means the attacker has the easiest solution to getting your files back.

In the scanning stage, the attacker is in control of your system and is looking for data to encrypt. Here the attacker can scan your system for the most important data, web pages, and devices.

Although your system’s security systems have all failed by this point, you still have a chance to salvage your data and systems. You could switch off your systems or get your important data out of the system if you can do so fast enough.

In the encryption stage, the attacker denies you access to your data or system. They then sit back and wait for their payday.

Global losses due to ransomeware attacks

4. Trojans

Trojans are one of the most difficult types of malware to defend against. They get into your system disguised as ordinary and harmless programs or files. For instance, you could download what you think is a PDF but it is a form of malware.

This kind of malware looks for software and system vulnerabilities that can offer the attackers access to your system. Attackers can steal your files, bombard your system with malware, or completely shut it down when they get that access.

Trojans are responsible for the distributed denial of service attacks that most companies dread. They cannot multiply on their own, but they can be combined with worms. Such a combination and cause untold damage to your system.

How to Detect Trojans

Trojans provide gateways for other people to control your systems. As such, unexplained changes within your system is the most significant indication of the presence of Trojans. You should be looking for the following signs;

  • Programs you don’t remember installing
  • Changed desktop layout and wallpaper
  • Changed taskbar layout
  • Unfamiliar bookmarks in your browser
  • Shrinking storage space

5. Adware

Adware is one of the most recent types of malware. Some people see it as less dangerous, but it can be really annoying. When adware gets into your system, it offers a gateway for unsolicited and malicious adverts. Adware is usually quite aggressive and might keep redirecting your browsing to pages with all sorts of adverts. They can waste a lot of time for you while you are trying to get some work done.

Adware also crawls your browser and social media pages to collect data from you. The data is then used to deliver targeted adverts to you. Most people’s devices are currently infected with adware and they don’t even know it.

How to Detect Adware

Adware is simple to detect for any keen computer user. You’ll start noticing too many adverts in your browsing activity when your computer is infected with adware. Look out for the following as well;

  • Unsolicited but targeted adverts that seem like someone knows what you want or where you’ve been.
  • Your pages redirecting to ad pages and e-commerce sites.
  • Spam adverts in your emails

Keep in mind that there is legal and legitimate adware nowadays, but the distributors have to seek your permission first before they install them on your computer. Nowadays websites will ask you for consent to place cookies in your browser. Some of those cookies are adware that allows them to deliver adverts to you.

6. Spyware

As the name suggests, spyware is used to spy on people through their computers and mobile devices. Spyware can grant cybercriminals access to your data, communications, websites, or some hardware parts of your device such as the microphone and camera.

The criminals can use the microphone on your device to listen in on your conversations. They can also see you through your webcams and phone cameras. They can also collect your passwords through the spyware program and use them to steal from you.

Spyware is commonly used by ordinary people to spy on people they have issues with. For instance, they are used by people who are suspecting their spouses are cheating.

How to Detect Spyware

Spyware is not easy to detect, but it is also difficult to install. Usually, it does not cause any significant effect on the normal functioning of your devices. Below are some indications to look out for.

  • New programs on your device that you did not install
  • New kinds of adverts in your browsing activities

The best way and easiest way to detect spyware is to run anti-virus programs. They can detect any unusual programs and extensions on your device.

Spyware and adware are easy to remove unless they are combined with another type of malware.

Cyber incidents have increased by 600% due to Covid-19

Securing Your Website from Malware Attacks

If you own a business or personal website, you need to take some precautions to ensure it keeps operating properly. Keep in mind that the easiest gateway to your website is your administrator’s computer. You’ll need to keep it safe from all kinds of malware.

Here are a couple of ways to protect your website from malware attacks.

Use website malware detection tools – You need updated anti-malware and firewall software embedded into your website at all times. Such software crawls your websites constantly and identifies any threats that might be lurking in the background.  You can also incorporate some malware removal tools that can help you get rid of some malware before it causes any damage.

 End-user training – If you have people signing up for accounts on your site you need to ensure that they are not used as gateways. You should sensitize them about the cybersecurity measures they should be taking, and provide training where possible.

Use WordPress security plugins – Most personal websites run on WordPress. It is the best platform you set up your site on if you want the utmost security against malware. Look for the best security plugins on WordPress and also learn how to how to check if your WordPress site is hacked. 

Signs That Your Website Has Been Compromised

Some of the latest malware attacks are sophisticated and difficult to detect. Here are some indicators that your website has been hacked.

  • Warnings from your browser.
  • The site goes missing and untraceable
  • Site become really slow or crashes
  • The site displays another website or unfamiliar pages

Cleaning a hacked WordPress site is not as difficult as dealing with a large website developed on a dedicated platform. Either way, they all need robust security systems to keep cybercriminals at bay. Consistent monitoring and adjustment are key as well.

Parting Shot

Cybersecurity threats are currently a global menace. They are affecting individuals, corporates, and government institutions. Every internet user needs to take it upon themselves to protect the systems they are using against cybercriminals. Most of the types of malware we have explored need some human action to execute. That means that systems could be more secure if end-users were more vigilant with their interactions online.

WPStrike makes it easy! We protect your website by manually, going through it every single month, updating, scanning and checking for issues and making sure the website is live so you don’t have to, so you can focus on your business! Click Here To Find Out More

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