WHAT IS MALWARE AND HOW TO AVOID IT
Malware is any piece of software that is harmful to a computer. It is simply short for ‘malicious software’ and they are usually manufactured with the sole purpose of doing damage by sneaking into the computer without the owner’s knowledge. Malware is often responsible for a wide variety of negative functions such as stealing data, monitoring the activity of a computer user, hijacking the computer or even changing computing functions. Examples of malware include viruses, worms, adware, Trojan, ransomware, spyware, and scareware etc.
Some signs that your computer may be affected by malware are new icons or software you have no recollection of installing or an increase in the number of pop up ads you encounter while browsing. If your computer is crashing repeatedly or abnormally slow, or you find yourself being redirected to unwanted sites, that might be an indication that you are under a malware attack.
We all don’t mind going to any length to protect our physical environment but when you consider how big a role computers play in our lives, we should probably make a similar or even greater effort to protect our cyber environment as well. Some ways we can avoid malware from ruining our tech gadgets include the following.
- Install an antivirus software on your computer: Most quality antivirus software will protect your computer from virus and malware attacks. Also, ensure to keep your antivirus software updated with the latest software patches. You should also run regular scans of your computer to detect any malicious activity.
- Don’t install unknown programs: Most malware usually masquerades as programs that claim to help free up storage space on your computer or allow you to play videos on the internet. Before you install any program that you cannot verify its origin, always scan it with your antivirus. It will also be helpful if your browser’s security settings are able to detect unauthorized downloads.
- Avoid opening unsolicited email attachments: Emails have traditionally been the fastest way to spread malware, so stay away from attachments or links contained in emails from unknown sources. Malware attachments often end in .exe, .vbs, .ink, .bat etc. and should be avoided at all costs. Also, make sure your spam filter is adequately ridding your inbox of spam mail.
- Don’t click on pop up ads when browsing the internet: If you can, ensure that you block pop ups in your browser as most pop up ads are used by scammers to spread malware and viruses. Always keep your browsers and extensions up to date to handle the ever- increasing database of malicious programs. If you can, do a domain check to see the legitimacy of the website you are trying to open – you can use No Risk Domain to do this.
- Don’t use open Wi-Fi connections: Public wireless networks like those in airports and hotels are more likely to be hijacked by negative actors and can compromise your computer system. Safe browsing is one of the easiest ways to avoid malware.
- When installing new software, always pay attention to whatever is being installed alongside the program. Some application allows malware to be introduced into the computer while they are being installed themselves.