Can’t tell your malware, from your ransomware, from your underwear? Don’t worry, you’re in the right place to find out. In this 3 - minute read, we’ll get you up to speed on malware so you can recognize an attack before it is too late.

What is Malware?

Shorthand for malicious software, malware is a software developed by computer hackers intended to infect people’s devices. As businesses move to a remote workforce as a result of COVID-19, malware deployment and exploitation of the teleworking infrastructure is seeing exponential increased activity.

How Does Malware Work?

Malware is installed on a device when a user clicks on a link, downloads an attachment, or opens a piece of software that has been shared with malicious intent. Users unknowingly activate and install the malicious software to their device which then enables the cybercriminal responsible for the software to either spy on the user’s online activity, steal their personal and financial data, or disrupt and derail business activity. If you are very unlucky, the malware may do all 3!

Malware threats come in the form of a virus, a worm, a trojan, spyware, and ransomware. The most common method of delivering malware is via good ol’ fashioned email. 9 out of 10 malware infection attempts are deployed using email.

Malware, widespread and diverse in its guises, is best thought of as its own subcategory of cybercrime. In 2018, damages caused by different types of malware incidents totaled $11 million USD. And those were the reported incidents!

What Does Malware Look Like?

Emails with malware are typically presented as though from an established contact, such as a work connection, a friend, or a family member. Look out for the warning signs below that the email is not legitimate:

Typical traits of emails containing malware:

  • The email looks to be sent by someone you know but the actual email address isn’t displaying
  • A spam-like subject line
  • Email address is similar – but not an exact match – to the email you expect
  • The message of the email asks for a password
  • The message of the email is very short (or non-existent!) and directs you to click a link
  • The email has gone to your spam mailbox
  • The email is full of typographical errors that are very obvious

In the event of receiving an email like this, never, NEVER click the link or view the attached download. Clicking the link enables the installation of the malware on your device and the chain of cyber events has begun.

What Should I Do to Prevent Malware Attacks?

Repeat after me, as a computer user, I am the first line of defense. Malware attacks would not work without the most important ingredient: me.

The first and easiest step to dodging malware attacks applies to all forms of cybercrime - personal vigilance. Cybercrime is successful because of its incredible sophistication and intentional trickery that even the savviest among us could fall for! Common sense alone is not enough to stay risk-free, as even downloads from legitimate websites can have malware attached. Any computer user can be duped, so it is essential that you take preventative measures and remain vigilant.

Other ways to protect your company’s computer systems from malware attacks are to activate the security features already built into Microsoft 365’s platform. These include: Multi-Factor Authentication, Conditional Access Policies, and Anti-Phishing Protections. By securing employee devices, you can effectively thwart attempts by threat actors to access or download confidential company data, no matter where they live, work, and play!

Whether you need help with turning on a few settings or would like talk about your cybersecurity strategy in-depth, TriQuest Technologies is here to help secure your IT network and find a solution that fits your business needs.

 

For 24 years, TriQuest Technologies has been powering the success of businesses throughout Fort Worth and Dallas. At our heart is a commitment to design reliability into every aspect of our customers’ IT system. The result? A trusted IT partner who specializes in cybersecurity, cloud migration, IT management services, and network infrastructure. Whether your company has 50 or 250 workstations, TriQuest offers unlimited professional support and a wide range of services to meet your individual business needs. Contact us at 817.882.8500 Ext 2 or click Contact Us in the top right menu bar.