Secure browsing | Effective Ways to Protect Yourself from Malware

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Secure browsing | Effective Ways to Protect Yourself from Malware 

Secure browsing
Secure browsing Effective Ways to Protect Yourself from Malware
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The Covid pandemic has disrupted more than just our social lives. With more people now forced to work from home, this disaster has led to an increase in malware attacks worldwide. So how to secure browsing?

In fact, a report shows that cyber attackers have created more than 18 million Covid-19-related threats in the form of malware and phishing emails in 2020 alone.

Among the most common attempts in the recent past includes:

  • Malware-ridden tracking apps – Attackers have developed a downloadable coronavirus case tracking app, similar to the one from WHO and other legitimate health organizations. However, their apps contain malware powerful enough to freeze your devices.
  • Phishing scam attempts – Hackers are increasingly sending phishing emails, posing as WHO, and are urging their victims to click links to malicious websites or open email attachments containing malware. For instance, an email can claim that your Covid results are out and urge you to open an attachment to know your results.
  • Attacks on healthcare organizations – With the healthcare industry being the most crucial industry during this pandemic, hackers are now targeting them with ransomware in a bid to ask for huge ransoms.

Besides these attempts, attackers also use mobile threats, sextortion scams (threatening to infect your family with Covid), and infected browser apps.  

You, therefore, have to employ some protective measures if you want to stay safe during this pandemic. But how can you protect yourself if you don’t know the types of malware that can infect your system?

Most common types of malware in use secure browsing

1.    Viruses

Arguably the oldest form of malware, a virus, refers to a malicious code that attaches itself to one of your apps. It's then executed every time that app runs.

What makes it different from other malware types is its replication capabilities. A virus can attach itself to any file on your computer and be transported through USB sticks, memory cards, or the internet.

Once in your system, a virus can modify your passwords, crash your system, send emails from your account, and slow down your system.

Most people get infected with viruses through illegal copying of programs and software.

2.    Trojans

Trojan horses have fast become the most popular malware in the market today. Hackers love them because they are not easy to detect. Right from their name, trojans come disguised as legitimate apps and files, tricking you into downloading and installing it.

The trojan can hide in a game, software patches, or an app from your play store. You can also install it when you open an attachment in your emails.

Once it’s in your system, a trojan acts as a backdoor. A hacker can use it to:

  • Spy on your data
  • Steal and modify your data
  • Access your network and monitor user activity
  • Install other malware
  • Conduct DDoS attacks on several websites

The good thing with trojan attacks is that trojans can’t replicate themselves in your system. Be aware while Secure browsing. 

3.    Worms

Like viruses, worms are also one of the oldest malware types out there. Worms exploit any vulnerabilities in operating systems and other software to spread.

Its distinctive feature from a virus is the fact that it's self-replicating. This means that it doesn't require any user action for it to start spreading. Once it's in your system, the worm can infect your entire hard drive and spread it to your network as well.

This is why many hackers use it to infect private company networks and ask for a ransom.

However, it can also be spread through emails. If the worm accesses your email account, it can access your contact list and send out replicas of itself to all your contacts hence spreading.

4.    Ransomware

You’ve probably heard of several ransomware attacks in 2020. This malware takes over your system and encrypts it, then demands a ransom if you want to retrieve your data.

It infects your system through trojans then spreads quickly through your system to take control.

Most Ransomware attacks target healthcare facilities, police and government departments, and also businesses with inadequate security.  

Thanks to the development of cryptocurrencies, hackers demand payments through Bitcoins, which is untraceable.  The WannaCry attack in 2017 is probably the biggest ransomware attack in history.

5.    Spyware

Spyware is the most used malware online. It records your personal information and online activity without your consent. This could be your passwords, credit card information, login information, or your browsing data.

The malware mostly sends back its data to advertisers, but cybercriminals can also use it to conduct identity thefts or credit card frauds.

Luckily, most spyware is easy to remove as they aren't too sophisticated. A bigger worry is that they usually enter your system with the help of trojans, which are harder to eliminate.

Keep in mind: Spyware isn’t limited to computer devices alone. They can also infect your mobile phones and tablets. Be aware while Secure browsing. 

6.    Adware

Adware is malware that sends advertisements to your devices, allowing hackers to earn from them. It comes in different forms, but by itself, adware can't do a lot of harm.

It can only redirect you to potentially malicious sites where hackers can infect users’ data through downloads.

Hackers can also use adware to modify your browser and network settings and add their affiliate codes to the web addresses of the online stores you visit. This allows them to gain commissions each time you buy things online.

7.    Rootkits

Unlike other types of malware, Rootkits don't actually damage your system. On the contrary, Rootkits act as a defense for other malware in your system.

They infect your computer’s operating system, allowing hackers to control your computer with full admin privileges. Rootkits can be so persistent that your only option to get rid of them is to reinstall your OS.

Once in your system, rootkits can:

  • Rename malicious programs like keyloggers with regular names
  • Redirect you from anti-malware websites
  • Restrict your browser access so you can’t browse for a solution
  • Restart malicious the malicious programs you kill

This malware spreads through malicious downloads, infected shared files, phishing, and malicious email attachments.

Other malware types you should be aware of include bots and botnets, and also Fileless malware.

How to Increase your protection against malware

With the number of cyber threats over the internet rising by the day, it's never too early to start thinking of improving your online security be aware while Secure browsing. . Here are a few ways to protect yourself from malware.

1.    Keep your software up to date

Software vulnerabilities are the first thing you should look into in the fight against malware. Start by always installing the updates you receive for your OS and other software.

The updates mostly contain patches to any system vulnerabilities, ensuring that hackers have no backdoors for introducing malware to your system.

The longer you use outdated software, the more malware risks you expose your devices to.

2.    Be extra cautious when downloading apps

When downloading any apps and software, even on legitimate app stores, you have to take an extra look at the developers. Most hackers have found ways to get their malware past the app store’s safety checks and unsuspecting victims.

Only download or transfer data from trusted developers on your play store and avoid downloading files through torrent – if possible.

Additionally, read more reviews from previous customers to understand what you’re getting into.

3.    Install an anti-malware software

Installing anti-malware software or antiviruses is among the most effective ways to get rid of the malware. A good antivirus will complete a full system scan, detect, and get rid of any hidden trojans, worms, keyloggers, viruses, among other malware before they can cause more harm.

Nonetheless, your antivirus is no good when you’re using an outdated operating system or software.

For complete malware protection, ensure that your antivirus and all other software are up-to-date.

4.    Use a Virtual Private Network

VPNs create a secure end-to-end tunnel that allows you to browse the internet anonymously. It also hides your IP address whenever you’re online. This protects your data traffic from hackers who’d want to eavesdrop.

It’s important to note that although a VPN secures your connections, it doesn’t prevent malware from infecting your device. VPNs only reduce your exposure to malware especially when you are on public networks. You need to complement it with antimalware software and an active firewall.

5.    Have email security protocols

Email is the most popular malware delivery system for hackers. It's, therefore, one channel you need to pay extra attention to.  Start scanning all the emails and attachments you receive for malware and limit the user access to legitimate links only.

Moreover, be strict with spam mails and delete any unwanted emails.

6.    Work on your authentication methods

Even with the best firewall and anti-malware software, you will be a malware victim if your authentication methods are wanting. So, reassess your passwords and authentication processes.

Improve your password strength and never use the same password for multiple accounts. Additionally, don't save your passwords on the computer. Instead, invest in a password manager.

Lastly, ensure that your multi-factor authentication is enabled. This will allow you to detect malware that tries to modify your accounts' data.

Final thoughts

Over the past decade, the number of malware attacks has grown exponentially. And now, with the Covid pandemic, you can't afford to ignore this ever-rising threat.

Above are some of the malware to watch out for and how to protect yourself from them. With these tips, you should be able to stay protected from any malware attacks. Hope you understand secure browsing. 

But nevertheless, do your research and keep improving your security every day! 

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