You can suffer severe damage to your business as a result of a malware attack. Your device can be locked, sensitive data can be encrypted, login credentials can be stolen, your PC can be spied on, and much more. Your business must know how to prevent malware attacks.
The purpose of this article is to discuss what malware is, types of malware, signs of malware infection, and how to prevent malware attacks. Let’s get started.
What Is Malware?
Malware attacks are carried out by hackers to:
- You can trick users into divulging sensitive information such as login credentials or social security numbers.
- Encrypt or steal data from users’ computers, hoping to receive a ransom for restoring access.
- The purpose of the spying is to steal credit cards and other financial data from the victims’ computers.
- Perpetuate denial-of-service attacks on multiple computers.
A device infected with malware can remain dormant for days or even months, even if it does not have malicious intent. The malware will strike when it can do the most damage.
Malicious Software in 2023
Businesses around the world have been suffering from malware attacks. The number of malware attacks globally in 2021 was approximately 5.4 billion. During the first half of 2022, there were around 2.8 billion malware attacks worldwide.
In 2023, malware attacks will continue to target businesses with the same ferocity. It is important for business owners to be prepared to deal with this cybersecurity threat. The first step toward learning about malware prevention is understanding the different types of malware.
Types of Malware
You should be aware of these types of malware.
- Ransomware – This type of malware locks a device or encrypts data and demands a ransom in exchange for access to the device or data. Example: LockBit
- Spyware – Spyware spies on victims’ devices and steals sensitive information. Example: FinSpy
- Adware – Adware displays unwanted advertisements on infected devices. As advertisers pay for views and clicks, they earn revenue for their creators. Example: Fireball
- Trojan Horse – A Trojan Horse disguises itself as legitimate software, such as a free version of a paid program. The Trojan Horse instals viruses, performs keylogging, encrypts or steals data once it enters a victim’s computer. Example: Ice IX
- Wiper – This malware is designed to permanently delete data. Example: Shamoon
- Keylogger – Keyloggers collect login credentials and other sensitive information by tracking keystrokes. Example: Ardamax Keylogger
- Bots – A malware that spreads itself by self-replication. A botnet is created once it is inside a network (network of bots). Then, hackers can use this botnet to send phishing emails and carry out denial of service attacks. Example: Gameover Zeus
- Rootkit – Rootkits give hackers access to operating systems and software. Infected devices can thus be used by hackers the way they want. Information theft, remote access, file execution, eavesdropping, and file deletion are some of the main consequences of rootkits. Example: Rovnix
Malware Infection Signs
Here are some telltale signs of malware infection:
- An annoying ad suddenly appearing on your PC may indicate malware infection. The worst part is that these pop-ups are often loaded with malware.
- There is a problem preventing you from accessing your computer or the data on it. You will eventually receive a ransom note stating that your computer has been infected with ransomware.
- A new toolbar, extension, and plugin has been installed without your permission within your web browser.
- Your PC has been experiencing increased Internet activity.
- Your computer has lost a significant amount of disk space.
- If you cannot turn on your antivirus software and your computer is infected by malware, your computer may be infected by malware.
A malware attack can also cause your PC to crash frequently for no apparent reason. Malware can lie inactive for days or months before becoming active when it can cause significant harm to the PC.
The best way to protect yourself against malware is to use the latest security software and security tools.
Preventing Malware Attacks
What are the best ways to avoid malware infection? Here are seven proven malware prevention strategies:
1. Install an Anti-Malware Program
The first line of defence against malware-related threats is an anti-malware program. Your computers, servers, and networks are scanned in real time and any malware threats detected are mitigated before they can cause damage.
Choosing an anti-malware program for your business should include the following features:
- User-device level protection
- Browser protection
- Network protection
- Server-level protection
Using a firewall will also enhance the security of your network and devices.
2. Implement Secure Authentication Methods
By implementing secure authentication methods, you can prevent unauthorised access to your systems and networks.
The following are some best practices:
- Multi-factor authentication should be enabled
- Manage your passwords with a password manager
- Authentication should be done using physical tools such as smart cards
- The use of biometric tools for authentication, such as fingerprint scans or iris scans, should be implemented
You can prevent malware and many other cyber threats by using a secure authentication method.
3. Implement Email Security
Email is often used to spread malware and commit phishing attacks. Your business can be protected against malware attacks and other programs that can harm your IT infrastructure by enhancing email security.
Implement a secure email gateway to filter out malicious attachments and automate email encryption for email security.
4. Monitor Suspicious Activity
Malware infection can be prevented by monitoring inbound and outbound network traffic with an intrusion detection system (IDS).
An IDS can alert your cybersecurity team to any abnormal activity detected by the device. If it is a malware infection, your team can take additional steps to eliminate it.
To prevent malicious requests from incoming traffic, you should also implement an intrusion prevention system (IPS).
Your network security can be enhanced by combining IDS and IPS.
5. Follow the Principle of Least Privilege
A security concept is the least privilege principle. By using this method, you provide your users with the least amount of data and resources.
The victim of a malware attack has minimal access to files and resources as a result. Hence, you can prevent further spread into the network by containing malware at the source.
You will increase your business’s attack surface if you give all of your employees administrative privileges. Malware can easily spread to other devices as well.
6. Update Operating Systems and Software
Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software and operating systems to gain access to your computer systems. They can easily infect devices with malware once they gain access.
Updating operating systems and software is therefore crucial. Updates for operating systems and software should never be delayed – install them as soon as they become available.
7. Train Your Employees
Small businesses aren’t targeted by hackers on a massive scale. Your IT infrastructure is not targeted by them, but rather by individual employees or small teams.
A good way to prevent malware or ransomware attacks is to train your employees on digital best practices.
A The following key areas should be covered in your cybersecurity training program:
- Identifying malicious email attachments and malicious websites
- Downloading files from malicious websites should be avoided
- Studying various social engineering techniques
- Create strong passwords by understanding the importance of them
- The safe use of removable media
- Cyber threats should be reported and responded to by users
Your cybersecurity awareness training should be tailored to the needs of your employees regardless of the topics covered.
On average, malware and other web-based attacks can cost businesses around $2.4 million. What’s worse, a malware attack can be a reason for a data breach that can cost businesses around $4.35 million. So small business owners must learn how to avoid malware.
Visiting a malicious website can expose you to drive-by-download, malvertising, URL injections, or Java script injections. Even if you don’t click on malicious links, your PC can get infected by visiting a malicious website.
Bitdefender is probably the best software for preventing malware attacks. However, the best anti-malware program for your business is the one that takes care of your security needs. So first understand your business needs and then search for the right security tool for preventing malware attacks.
Humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity. So the best defence against malware is to train your team on the best cybersecurity practices. Anti-malware software, implementing strong authentication methods, and updating systems and software are proven ways to avoid malware infection.