Secrets of the (Hacking) Ninja: Malware Explained
By: Eddie Nudel
Malware: The Dark Side of the Internet
We hear the phrase and, despite the fact that we don’t actually understand the term, we cringe. It’s a vague concept that conjures images of some advanced computer criminal stealthily slipping his fingers into our virtual pockets to retrieve our prized personal information. Malware, we don’t know what it means, all we do know is that we don’t want it on our computers. Whether it has originated from an unfamiliar email link, a prominent social media platform like Facebook or Instagram, or a sketchy website that you probably shouldn’t have been visiting anyway, the stifling reality is that malware is everywhere, and avoiding it is like dancing the Mambo through a minefield. Instead of sitting in the intimidating darkness of the vast unknown, let’s demystify this concept so we can get down to the more important business of how to protect ourselves against the threat of infiltration.
Learn more about the top-rated antivirus solutions for malware protection.
What is Malware?
To be fair, malware is probably such a scary word because it is vague and doesn’t have a single definition. The very ambiguity of it makes things all the more disheartening. Here’s a general explanation. Malware is the broadest term that covers a wide spectrum of harmful threats to the safety of your computer and the security of your private information in general. This term encompasses viruses, Trojans, rootkits, worms and more. Some common threats include but are not limited to:
- Viruses that will slow down your computer or make it crash randomly and uncontrollably.
- Spammy advertisements that overwhelm your email inbox. These can be innocuous but pretty annoying on the whole.
- Hacks that will redirect you to geared websites which may be harmful, misleading or pornographic in nature (browser hijacking).
- Hijacking your own website so that it redirects to other harmful or promotional sites.
- Recording your keystrokes and logging your passwords and login information (spyware).
- Inserting phishing programs to collect your personal data.
- Scamware that puts up a false warning front asking for payment to release your computer.
- Randomly generating popup ads.
- Logging your browsing history.
Hackers-Crossing, Proceed With Caution
You now know what malware is, and the knowledge might be only slightly less fearsome than the unknown we were swimming in before (and it might be even more!). Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent these nefarious cyberpunks from doing a samurai summersault into your operating system (OS). Here’s a brief summary of preventative measures to keep hackers at bay:
- Install an effective anti-malware software program.
- Never download without 100% reliability.
- Never give your information out online.
- Never click on a link that’s not secure.
- Never follow links that you receive in an email.
- Read some more easy to follow tips for Internet safety.
Make Your Move
Of course, as explained above, no computer is secure without an antivirus software installed. You can discover which one of the antivirus software industry leaders is right for you, such as Norton or McAfee, and then you can get it on your computer fast!