Software is the lifeblood of computer systems that enable machines to perform specific tasks that are beneficial for users. The software can be of two types – systems software that includes operating systems and allied programs that are the driving forces behind the system and application software, which are programs designed for end-users.
The system software is low-level programs that cooperate with the machine only at a basic level. Application software resides upon the system software and includes programs like databases, spreadsheets, and word processors. In recent times, with exponential growth in the popularity of mobile devices, application software has transformed into the ubiquitous mobile apps and become an integral part of modern living.
Application software allows computers and mobile devices to perform all kinds of tasks, personal and professional and finds wide application across businesses. You can gather more ideas about different types of application software that create special experiences for users by logging on to the website https://www.bigdropinc.com/. But along with the use of application software come the threat of malicious software or malware that has damaging effects on computer systems and mobile devices.
What is Malware?
Hackers use malware for a variety of reasons that range from obstructing users from accessing their devices to stealing personal information, passwords, and money. Any software that is intrusive and hostile can serve as malware. Virus attacks and malware attacks pose big threats for computer systems and networks, and new security threats are emerging every day. The biggest danger is the unauthorized use of mobile devices and computer systems that can lead to data theft and infringe on privacy.
Cybercriminals use malware as a weapon to carry out their nefarious activities. They keep on improving their game by adopting new technology to break through computer systems by fooling users who often find it very hard or even fail to recognize malware attacks.
Newer techniques of concealing codes help cybercriminals to deceive users who are unable to make out the devastation that happens due to unwarranted infiltration by hackers. However, some signs should make users suspicious about malware attacks.
Symptoms of infected computers
Symptoms of malware attacks are often not discernible because it has similarity to the effects of system instability and hardware incompatibilities and inconsistencies. But the signs are good enough to alert users who can investigate the problem before it can do much damage.
- Obstruction in accessing certain websites that shows some error message repeatedly about the browser’s inability to display the page is one of the most prominent signs of malware attack that can also result in freezing of browsers without any definite cause.
- Blocking access to security-related websites, a sudden change in the home page of the web browser or being redirected to some other page instead of the one that you intend to reach could all be due to some intrusion or attack on your website that causes it to behave erratically.
- If the web browser throws up too many pop-up messages, it could be due to some mischievous software working behind the scenes. Besides, if the computer becomes unusually slow and unresponsive at times that continues for long, it could be due to some virus or malware attack.
- Strange icons appearing on the computer desktop, display of unusual error message and inability to access specific default applications like the Task Manager, Control Panel, Command Prompt or Registry Editor all tell you that your system is under siege as the malware plays all sorts of tricks that could eventually lead to the computer restarting on its own.
Types of malware
Malware manifests in many forms like viruses, worms, ransomware, and includes rootkits, Trojan horses, dialers, keyloggers, spyware, rogue security software, adware, malicious BHOs and other programs created for carrying out clandestine activities that can even be of criminal nature. All malware damage computer systems and most of these are Trojans and worms.
Trojan horse – Trojan horse is a malware that pretends to be useful and good for your computer and seems innocuous but will finally end up harming the system and stealing data. Once Trojan infects a computer or other device, it helps in downloading other harmful programs like adware, ransomware, spyware, etc.
Worm – This is a type of Trojan with the ability to spread from one system to another. Worms do not latch on to a file like viruses do but can propagate in many ways. After infecting a system, the worm starts spreading its tentacles by copying itself on devices physically attached to the system, dropping other malware, deleting files, and even consuming bandwidth.
Ransomware – This malware blocks user access to the system or personal files and demands a ransom payment, which, when fulfilled, will help to regain access.
Adware – Advertising-supported software or adware is the most prominent malware that tops the list of Potentially Unwanted Programs or PUP. The malware is a standalone program that displays unwarranted ads to end users in many ways like slide-in advertisements, pop-up ads, inserted ads, browser pop-ups, or altered website content.
Rootkits – The malware derives its name from rootkit, a package that gives the highest privileges in the system. The name rootkit describes the software that allows unauthorized functionality to existing in the system secretly that has the power to intercept typical modules of the environment like operating system and rookit and even modify it.
Spyware – The spyware is deceptive, like any other malware, but hard to detect. As the name implies, it collects information about your online behavior like surfing habits, personal information like credit card numbers, tracks your browsing history, and even passes the information over the web to third parties by keeping you in the dark. A malware named keylogger is a type of spyware that can monitor your keystrokes.
Protecting computer systems from malware
Computer systems that have defects in the design of the OS and lack permissions and updates are most prone to malware attacks. Since Windows OS is the most popular operating, it is only natural that it is the target for most hackers, and most malware focuses on it.
Staying protected from malware is only possible when you surf the web cautiously. Stay away from suspicious websites, be careful about opening the attachments of emails, use a quality ant-virus program, and back up the system regularly to avoid any setback if disaster strikes.
Although many malware tools are available to remove malware from infected systems, a more certain way to get rid of malware is to detect the problem early, and Windows users should system restore at the soonest. However, time is a factor for restoring the system because if you act very late, things will not work at all. Perhaps, the cleanest way is to use the backup data to install the system anew once again.
Protecting mobile phones from malware vulnerabilities
- Remove unused apps – Since most malware tends to make use of the apps already installed in mobile devices to make its way into the system, you must never allow unused apps to existing on your device for long. Disabling unnecessary app permissions and regularly uninstalling apps that are not used or rarely used does not only free up space on the device but eliminates the chances of malware intrusion to a great extent. This helps to keep your data safe.
- Check app publisher credentials – Before installing third-party apps on your phone, you must check the credentials of the app publisher to ascertain how authentic it is. Carefully determine what precisely the apps offer, and if you feel that things appear to be a bit shady, keep away from such apps to avoid exposing your device to new vulnerability.
- Check app permissions – Apps make use of the hardware resources of your device, and whenever you download any app, it seeks permission for accessing some hardware features of the phone. For example, when you update the alarm clock app, there is no need to allow the app to look into your contacts. You must allow apps to access only the relevant features of your phone, and if you find it wants permission for accessing irrelevant features, treat it as a red flag.
- Do not install it.APK files – The general guideline to minimize exposure of your device to malware is to avoid downloading and installing.APK files because there are high chances of such files containing malware. It is better not to take chances with such files because you will come to know about its malicious abilities only after installing it, and by then, it might be too late to prevent any damage.
Never buy the idea that installing an anti-virus program or malware scanner on phones is useless because the truth is on the contrary. You need to use it for some time to see the difference. Having some malware detector or anti-virus pack on your mobile device is always helpful because it helps in detecting harmful or rogue apps to keep your device out of harm’s way. It is especially useful when you are downloading any new app.