September 18, 2019

    8 Types of Malware Attacks and How to Avoid Them

    Malware is a threat to your business both from a monetary and a productivity perspective. It can compromise your secure data and bring your business to a screeching halt. Find out more about malware, eight common types of malware attacks to watch out for, and the steps you can take to mitigate the risks of malware.

    What is Malware?

    First, let’s establish what malware is and the intent of those using it. Malware is any malicious software that is written and distributed with the intent to cause digital harm. This could mean anything from stealing data to damaging devices. Any device including computers, tablets, phones, computer systems, networks, and more could be at risk. Malware can corrupt or take control of these devices’ operations, giving the hacker total control.


    8 Types of Malware to Avoid

    Malware can be disruptive to and damaging for your organization. There are numerous types of malware, with the list growing every day. Hackers’ efforts are increasing in sophistication, so it’s vital to know what you’re up against. Here are a few types of malware that could be harmful from a data security perspective.

    1. Spyware

    Spyware is a type of malware designed to allow a hacker to spy on users, gathering information like internet activity, login credentials, and more. When a hacker uses spyware, they can gain access to any type of sensitive information your users view. This means personal details, card payment information, HIPAA-covered data, and more. While spyware is dangerous, it’s fortunately fairly easy to remove.

    2. Adware

    Have you ever noticed an ad popping up on your computer out of nowhere? This could be adware. Adware is a type of malware that causes ads to show up on your computer in an attempt to generate revenue for the ad creator. Sometimes, adware is closely related to spyware and commonly shows up in the form of pop-up ads or ads embedded in software or a program.

    3. Ransomware

    Ransomware does exactly what its name describes – holds your computer or device under the hacker’s control in an effort to gain ransom money. In this scenario, hackers infiltrate devices with ransomware, locking users out unless they pay. In some cases, the ransomware hackers will threaten to release sensitive data to the public or on the dark web unless the ransom is paid.

    There are two general types of ransomware to keep an eye out for:

    • Locker ransomware, which restricts access to the computer or infected device
    • Crypto ransomware, which restricts access to files and stored data

    4. Trojan Horse

    A Trojan horse malware attack is one of the most common kinds of threats. In this attack, hackers disguise the malware as something appealing, like a free download, special gift, or exclusive offer. Once the disguised malware infiltrates the network, any data can be stolen. Often, the Trojan horse malware can act as spyware, too, allowing hackers to spy on your actions.

    5. Viruses

    Viruses are one of the most common types of malware, and a threat that most people think of when considering security threats to their devices. A virus is a malicious program that replicates itself, spreading to other devices, networks, or programs. Your documents, applications, programs, and other vital business features could be compromised in an instant.

    6. Worm

    In many ways, worm malware is like a virus. Both types of malware can replicate themselves and spread to other devices and systems. However, worms can be far more destructive than other forms of malware since they can replicate and spread on their own. They don’t need to be attached to an existing program and they don’t require action from users to spread like a virus does.

    7. Hybrids

    In many cases today, malware is a combination of two different types of attacks. This usually means a combination of a worm or Trojan Horse with malware or adware attached. These hybrids, or bots, aim to make infected parties part of a bigger network controlled by a single botnet master. Once a group of computers is connected, these botnets can be rented out to other hackers for their own exploitative purposes.

    8. Malvertising

    Malvertising is not quite the same as adware. With malvertising, legitimate ads are compromised with malware, which is then delivered to a target’s computer. So, when you click on the ad, your computer will be affected, unbeknownst to you or the original advertiser.


    8 Tips for Avoiding Malware

    Now that you know more about the common types of malware attacks, you need to know the steps you can take to ensure you avoid compromise. Here are eight actions you should take to mitigate the risk of a malware attack.

    1. Never open, click, or download anything that you deem too suspicious, like files, ads, emails, etc.
    2. Purchase, run, and regularly update anti-malware and anti-spyware software. These types of software will combat the malware that could attack your systems.
    3. Install spam filters to block any possibility of infected information across all devices. This should prevent spam from being visible, meaning your employees won’t be tempted to click on or open it.
    4. Only connect to secure Wi-Fi networks. Connecting to public Wi-Fi at coffee shops or libraries can open your networks up to potential harm.
    5. Install firewalls capable of detecting any suspicious activity.
    6. Regularly update your devices’ operating systems. Doing so will keep them up-to-date on the latest safety features.
    7. Regularly change your password and adhere to password best practices, like using numbers, complex word combinations, and upper and lowercase letters.
    8. Adopt a secure file sharing solution to help you better protect your sensitive files.

    Ultimately, adopting a secure file sharing solution is the best way to keep your data protected. A top FTP server covers a lot of these steps in a single solution. They keep data secure with firewalls, encryption, intruder detection capabilities, and more. If you want to find the best way to avoid malware infections, a secure file sharing solution is your best option.


    Learn more about keeping your data secure. Download this free Data Security Training Guide now.

    free data security training guide


    Martin Horan

    Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.

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