Understanding Malware Protection for Computers

Many people are afraid of having their personal data stolen, but few understand how to properly protect themselves from attacks.  This brief article is designed to help gain a basic understanding of malware, spyware, and data breaching.  If you ever heard about cyber-security, there are many troublesome statistics that cause headaches for computer owners.  For example, around 64 percent of adults have had at least some piece of their personal information leaked or stolen.  This includes details such as your home address, social security number, birth dates, and credit card numbers.

What is a Computer Virus?

Essentially most computer viruses are self-replicating bits of code that are designed to manipulate how computer programs traditionally operate.  As cyber-security experts, it is always helpful to look at the computer the same way we look at our own bodies and minds.  The term “virus” wasn’t just picked out of a hat.  These malicious scripts are called viruses because they act just like viruses we can catch as human beings.  They self-replicate and can be passed from one host to another, sometimes without even being able to see the side effects of infection.     

Various Kinds of Computer Viruses

There are countless types of computer viruses that a normal operating system can catch.  However, they can be classified into various groups to understand their primary function.  Below are some of the most common PC virus types, and a brief description of what they do. 

Spyware:  As the name implies, this secretive script is often hard to detect.  The primary purpose of spyware is to covertly steal your personal information on computers, and mobile devices.  Your personal information that can be breached is your browsing history, passwords, emails, and other forms of personal information that can be leveraged for personal gain.  Remember that as with most things, it all comes down to money.  The developers of spyware are trying to financially gain by stealing personal information from others. 

Trojans:  These types of viruses are malicious programs that are designed to look legitimate.  This prompts the user to download and install the virus, thinking they are downloading software from trustworthy sources.  Virtually any software can be falsified, from iTunes to Photoshop to PDF and video viewers.  You can help avoid these types of attacks by double-checking where you are getting your programs from.  Don’t let a program run an installation unless you are expecting to install the software.  For example, you want to download a cool-looking wallpaper for your computer, and the download asks permission to make changes to your computer. 

Ransomware:  The final type of virus we will address today is called ransomware.  Again, the name implies the primary function of these types of viruses.  These scripts are designed to delete or block important data from servers in a way that cannot be accessed again.  Companies with personal client data are the most likely culprit of being attacked by ransomware.  The developers will provide a warning or a deadline by which payment must be made, or the data will be blocked or permanently removed.

Modern computer users need to stay on top of their game when it comes to protecting their devices and personal data.  We are constantly attacked by outside sources, and unfortunately not all our data is under our own control.  Remember the story from a few years back when virtually everyone’s financial information was leaked by the Experian credit leak.  These days many Americans are worried about the implications of hackers based in Russia, and our geopolitical environment becomes more worrisome by the minute.  If you live in our around New Jersey, we invite you to contact Cerberus Technology Solutions for a free PC tune-up.  Our experienced staff is more than happy to discuss virus and malware protection steps you can take to help keep your digital information under lock and key.