Happy Surfing: A Guide to Understanding Malware
Over 40% of the world’s population has some form of access to the Internet – that’s over 3.26 billion of us online. If you consider how inextricably linked our daily lives are to all sorts of online activities, services and resources – the Internet is the largest and most interconnected community the world has ever seen.
Like any other large community, it’s important that its members be informed, to ensure they can safely engage and connect with others. There will always exist a small group of people looking to spoil the party- sometimes for profit, sometimes for sport. The good news is that at Acanac, our mission is to ensure the Internet stays as enjoyable as possible. We hope you use this information to take few simple precautions. Below is some information to help you enjoy your High Speed Internet connection worry-free.
Virus = Malware
As the Internet has evolved over the last couple of decades, so too have the types of online threats and the terminology used to describe them. In particular, the definition of a “virus” has become a little fuzzy. Certain companies continue to market their products as “antivirus” because the word virus has received big headlines in the past and is universally recognized.
To clarify: a computer virus is actually a type of malware. The word “malware”, which is short for malicious software, is a general term that is now used to describe various other types of threats designed to harm your device, steal your information or degrade your online experience.
Here is a simple analogy: A virus is malware just as jazz is a type of music.
The most common types of malware
To help you identify and understand the most common types of malware, we put together this list with a brief description of how they work and how they might affect your device or connectivity.
A virus is a program or code that attaches itself to a piece of software and replicates itself when that software is activated. Most viruses attach themselves to “.exe” files and are designed with the distinct purpose of causing havoc. You might notice programs and software slowing down, or not responsive at all.
A worm is a program that replicates itself in order to destroy data and files by exploiting holes in network security, traveling from one location to the next. They can travel quickly through a network, infecting every device in its path, not needing to attach themselves to other software. Gross, right? Users would quickly notice a pattern of impact across devices connected to an infected network.
Ransomware is a particularly nasty form of malware. It encrypts data and prevents a user from using their device. As the name implies, perpetrators demand ransom money be paid, or, in some cases, require another action such as completing a survey. And unfortunately there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your device after paying ransom. The most famous type of ransomware is known as Cryptolocker.
This malware is even sneakier. It enables administrator-level access to a device or network so a hacker can gain administrative control of computers by modifying the operation system (OS). Rootkits are usually very difficult to find because they hide themselves from detection by the same modifications made to the OS. Rootkits can be used to install other malware, to monitor user activity, to steal user data, or to steal computing resources. This is a tough malware to remove and often requires a complete system wipe to get rid of it.
Aptly named, since they are designed to appear as something harmless on the outside but have malicious code hidden inside. The main purpose is to take over a computer system’s resources and deploy them for denial of service (DoS) attacks or delivering spam – not the edible kind.
The name says it all. Spyware spies on you. There are various applications for this type of software which can be well-intentioned, such as employers or parents monitoring a person’s keystrokes and activity. In the wrong hands, however, it can seriously infringe on privacy and compromise your online identity.
Adware displays advertisements on your computer to generate revenue. Although it does not pose a threat to your device or privacy like other malware, it can definitely impair your ability to surf the net and can slow down your surfing experience.
Choosing the right protection
We’ve established that many of the companies offering anti-malware options market them as “antivirus”. When choosing between programs, don’t get caught up on the name of the product. Focus instead on what each solution actually protects you from.
We encourage you to shop around and compare. In addition to paid options, there is very effective software you can get for free.
Cyber Hygiene and basic do’s and don’ts
Practicing good Cyber Hygiene is also an important part of staying safe online. Yes, software can detect and fix issues, but prevention is still the way to go.
Make sure that whichever antivirus or anti-malware software you’re using is updated with the latest features and, most importantly, avoid opening suspicious files – especially through e-mail. If you are downloading or clicking on something, pay particular attention to the file name. For example, if you’re trying to download a JPEG and the file is named JPEG.exe, do not click on it.
A High Speed Internet provider you can trust
You need a High Speed Internet provider that loves the Internet and all the amazing things it has to offer as much as you do. At Acanac, we want to help you live in the moment without having to sweat the details. If you’re looking for fast and reliable High Speed Internet, make the simple switch today by calling 1-866-281-3538 or clicking here today.