Malware attacks are on the rise and threaten the security of your devices. Cybercriminals will install malware without your knowledge. Once it is on your device, they use it to steal sensitive information, spy on you, damage files, and hold your device hostage.
Malware can get onto your device in many ways. For example, phishing emails can trick you into downloading an attachment or clicking a link to a fake website. Browsers often come with built-in security warnings and ignoring them could result in malware getting on to your device. External devices like USBs could be infected with malware. If you don’t download software directly from the source, it could contain malware.
Verifying apps on macOS
Gatekeeper on a Mac helps to prevent malware attacks on macOS. It doesn’t allow apps from unverified developers to be installed. When you verify apps on Mac OS you may get a message that says macOS cannot verify that this app is free from malware. It means the Apple Store has not authorized it and it may be unsafe to use. It’s best to avoid any software that doesn’t make it through the malware protection for Mac.
If you install Mac apps from outside the App Store, macOS will check the Developer ID signature. This verifies that the software is from an identified developer and hasn’t been altered. If you are absolutely sure the app you want to install is from a trustworthy source and hasn’t been tampered with, Setapp shows you how to temporarily override the Mac security settings to open it.
Types of malware
In order to try and prevent malware attacks, it helps to identify the most common types and understand more about how they work.
- Viruses infect your device and spread throughout your system. These malware viruses can modify your computer functions and applications. They can copy, delete, and steal data or encrypt it to carry out a ransomware attack.
- Worms self-replicate without human intervention. They often go undetected as they look like legitimate work files. They can infect millions of devices.
- Ransomware encrypts files and forces victims to pay a ransom for their recovery.
- Bots are self-replicating malware that spreads and creates a network of bots. The attacker can then command the devices to perform automated tasks, such as sending phishing emails.
- Trojan horses seem legitimate but are actually malicious. They rely on social engineering to gain access. This gives attackers the opportunity to steal data, perform keylogging, etc.
- Keyloggers can monitor keystroke patterns and give cybercriminals access to sensitive data.
- Rootkits enable cyber criminals to remotely access and control a device. This facilitates the spread of other types of malware.
- Spyware downloads onto a device without permission of the user. Cybercriminals use it to obtain sensitive information. Mobile device spyware can track the location of a user and has access to the camera and microphone.
In many cases, you may not even be aware that you have malware on your device. However, there are ways to detect malware. Here are some of the malware signs to look out for that could indicate your device is infected.
- It slows down or crashes.
- It doesn’t want to shut down or restart.
- You receive many pop-ups and unwanted ads.
- You find unexpected icons or toolbars in your browser or on your desktop.
- You see a new default search engine and it displays tabs you didn’t open.
Ways to prevent malware attacks
There is no way to completely prevent malware attacks. Strong cybersecurity hygiene is the best way to reduce your risks. If you want to know how to avoid malware, you must be aware of the role of human error. In many cases, bugs get onto a device through a mistake by a human, such as downloading a suspicious attachment or clicking a link to a malicious website. The best line of defense is to perform regular security awareness training. Other measures you can take include:
- Patch and update your software.
- Use firewalls and security software.
- Require multi-factor authentication.
- Follow email best practices and use email security gateways
- Use the principle of least privilege.
- Monitor for suspicious activity.
- Make regular backups of important files.
The more layers of defense you have, the more opportunities you have to detect and remove malware.
Malware is a significant problem today. You need to find ways to reduce the risks of it getting onto your devices. It can cause many problems from stealing your sensitive information to spying on you and holding your data hostage. Prevention is better than trying to deal with the consequences. There are various measures you can take to reduce your risks. Some of these are following best security practices and having several layers of defense.