An Overview of Malware

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and as such the data specialists at Atlantic Data Forensics are excited to share their knowledge of major cyber security concerns, such as malware.

Malware can wreak havoc on a company’s network, decreasing efficiency, wasting valuable employee time and lowering profits. Here, the data and technology professionals at Atlantic Data Forensics discuss what malware is, what types of malware are present today, and some of the signs that your network may be compromised.

What is Malware?

Malware is the abbreviated version of “malicious software,” or software that is designed to illicitly access or harm a computer or network without the owner’s knowledge or consent. Originally created as harmless pranks or thought-provoking experiments, malware is now used to access private information, extort internet users, spread spam and more.

What Types of Malware Exist?

There are many types of malware, and they all exist for specific purposes. Here are several of the most common:

Viruses

The goal of a virus is to attach itself to a clean file, infect it and then infect other clean files, in the same way a biological virus would. Like their namesake, viruses can spread uncontrollably, and cause major damage by deleting, corrupting and damaging files and network systems.

Trojans

Named after the historic Trojan Horse, trojans disguise themselves as innocuous software to discretely access your system. By creating “backdoors,” trojans then allow other malware into the system.

Spyware

As its name implies, spyware acts as a spy, discreetly hiding in the background and collecting information about a user’s email address, password, credit card numbers and more.

Worms

Worms tunnel their way through multiple devices by accessing their shared network through network interfaces. As each machine is infected by the worm, this machine then infects other machines in the network.

Ransomware

Ransomware encrypts various files on a network, blocking the user from accessing them unless a ransom is paid.

Adware

While not necessarily malicious, adware undermines a network’s security to allow pop-up ads to be shown. Although pop-up ads are more annoying than harmful, the undermined security may become vulnerable to other types of malware.

How Can Malware Be Detected?

Unfortunately, malware does not always make itself known, and a network can run smoothly while being infected with malware. There are some critical signs to take note of in some situations. A network that is working unusually slow, crashes frequently or shows unusual error messages may be infected. Furthermore, frequent pop-up ads or desktop icons, toolbars or homepages that were not downloaded by the user are another sign a network may be compromised. Malware can manifest in many ways, and any peculiar activity should be discussed with an experienced data forensic professional.

Let Atlantic Data Forensics Help You Take Back Control of Your Network

Malware is to your network as an infection is to your body: your body cannot function optimally until the infection is cleared. Without your network running at full capacity, your business cannot remain efficient, productive and profitable. The team at Atlantic Data Forensics has years of experience tackling all types of malware issues on a wide variety of networks, and can work to ensure that your system is up and running again in no time. Don’t allow your network to remain vulnerable any longer—for more information, we urge you to contact us today!

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