There are so many myths about malware out there today. Today it is so easy to get infected by opening up an infected attachment in your email from Aunt Sally, or by visiting a website that is almost like a mine field. One wrong step and “boom” it automatically downloads malware on to your computer. Once infected, your computer can turn into a zombie, being remotely controlled by criminals to attack other computers. Criminals may steal your personal data or use your computer for devious activity.
While you need to take precautions to prevent getting infected in the first place, such as running an up-to-date security software, it’s also important to know how malware works and how it spreads. There is however, tons of false information out there.
1. I’m pretty smart and I know when my computer is infected
Actually, modern malware is very stealthy. In regards to the whole thing about how your computer slows down or starts acting strangely because you have malware, that’s still the case for some types, but it is no longer the norm. Some types of malware masquerade as legitimate software, so you don’t even realize it’s malicious. Ransomware is loud and obnoxious, so you always know when that’s on your computer. And others burrow so deep into the operating system that you never notice their presence. That type of malware quietly collects all your sensitive information and sends it all out of your computer to a remote server. The longer the malware stays undetected, the more criminal acts it can execute on or through your computer.
2. I keep my nose clean and don’t visit bad sites…I’ll be ok
Most people think you get malware and viruses by visiting sites that have pornography on it or by sharing pirated software and movies that you download, Fact is most malware infections nowadays come from perfectly legitimate websites. These sites may have been hacked because of poor passwords or flaws in the software. Malvertisements, or online ads with malicious code embedded inside, are also abundant. Users are infected just by visiting the sites at the moment the ad is displayed. Avoiding the “dark and seedy corners of the Internet” is no longer sufficient to avoid malware attacks.
3. I use a Mac, I’m OK
Survey says…X! This is perhaps the most damaging myth on this list. Years ago Apple quietly stopped making that claim on its Website, Mac users are still holding fast to the perception that Macs can’t get malware. While it’s true that malware is a bigger problem for Windows users, cyber-criminals are not going to miss out on infecting millions of Mac users. There have been a number of Mac-specific malware in recent years, and there are plenty of cross-platform malware, which can infect both Windows and Macs. Bottom line…nobody is safe from malware today.
4. I don’t have anything worth stealing on my computer
What? You may not have really important docs on your computer worth stealing but what about your friends? Your address book is sometimes considered the lottery. All your friends from your email address book are potential recipients for spam and other malicious emails. The browser can be used in a “man-in-the-browser” attack to intercept your login credentials whenever you try to log in to your email or online banking accounts. You don’t need to be super-rich or super-powerful to be an attractive target for online criminals; just being you enough for a cyber criminal.
5. Wipe and restore…Good as new
If you want to waste your time then do this. Many people think the best way to handle a malware infection is to wipe the computer, re-install the operating system, and just copy all the files back from backup. This is, on the surface, a very good plan, except for the fact that if you aren’t careful, you will restore the malicious file that started the whole mess in the first place. You need to make sure that your documents and data have been scanned, even the ones in your backup file, to make sure you don’t re-infect yourself each time.
If you think you have been infected with malware and need help resolving the issue at hand or want to be proactive and learn how to defend against becoming infected, please contact Alpha Geeks Onsite!