Cybersecurity threats: How malware can get into your device.

All devices are prone to viruses. Cybersecurity threats are everywhere and we often forget it. Learn how to protect yourself.

Every day we connect to the network from different devices; they can be desktop computers when it’s time to work; phones when we want to be distracted; even tablets when it’s time to study or get organized. But are we really aware of the dangers that lurk on the web? Learn more about cybersecurity threats and how to avoid them.

Cybersecurity threats
Cybersecurity threats

How do viruses and malware work?

If we go to the medical definition; it is an entity that overcomes any kind of barrier in order to make us sick. In the computer area they have the same meaning; the difference is that their objective is to alter the operation of any device. This is done without the user’s consent and with a malicious purpose; in the same way, they multiply from device to device.

Not always viruses necessarily come in illegitimate files; sometimes these viruses are introduced in completely legal and original applications or documents. However, they are introduced illegally and after it goes unnoticed, it executes its code; this with the purpose of damaging data, deleting information, etc.

Then, are malwares viruses? Well, all viruses are malwares, but not all malwares are viruses. That is to say, that viruses are only a type of malware; but many people use both terms as synonyms, although technically they are not the same thing.

Types of malware that are security threats

There are many types of malware on the web, some of which we may not yet be fully aware of; others that may be developing right now. However, these are some of the ones we already know about:

  • Spyware: this functions as an “informant” for the developer; that is, it collects the victim’s information, such as Internet activity, login data, etc., and transmits it to the hacker, who then uses this information for his own illegal benefit.
  • Ransomware: this works as a “ransom note” because the hacker locks the files through this ransomware; in the same way, he attaches a note where he explains that to unlock the documents you must pay; such payment is made through cryptocurrencies so it cannot be traced; after the hacker receives the payment, he will proceed to release the files.
  • Adware: this generates income for the hacker through repetitive advertising, mostly known as “spam”. Often this advertising is for free video games, fake contests and browser extensions.

Other cybersecurity threats that are a risk

  • Trojans: these are types of malware that are used to camouflage other threats. Simply put, these masquerade as real applications so that when executed they can deploy the malicious application. Its name was given due to the story of how the Athenian warriors built a wooden horse to infiltrate soldiers to Troy; and thus attack them from the inside.
  • Botnet: are computer networks that act as “Zombies“. In other words, hackers infect a set of computers to control them remotely; in this way the hacker can jam or overload a web page and wreak havoc.
  • Worms: these were made for a particular purpose, to spread. After the worm infects one device it has the power to infect other connected devices, such as external memory sticks or connected phones, for example; after these proliferate, they remain active on all devices. Their job is to collect information and then install other malware.

How can I know if my device has been infected?

There are several signs that we can take into account to know if a device is infected or not; some of these signs may be first of all that you notice certain slowness in your computer; either when logging in or when starting processes. In the same way, you may also notice programs that you did not install or annoying pop-ups; also that you lack storage space, because malware often install additional files that take up space.

We have to keep in mind that not always when our computer is slow or lacks space, it is because of malware; this may be because, over time, we tend to download files, save documents, images, games, etc; which progressively fills the internal memory and therefore its processing is slower. So you can try to delete unused files, programs or games to free up space; if your computer is still slow or the memory is full, you may have malware.

How can we avoid infection?

Now that we know the main threats, how they work and how they enter our devices; we must know how to protect ourselves from these dangers. Some methods can be the following ones:

  • Try as much as possible to download software and applications from official sites; because pirated applications are usually on unauthorized websites.
  • Keeping the antivirus updated is another way to keep your computer safe; this is because antivirus are created so that with each update they are prepared for new threats. This means that if we do not update it, we run the risk of infecting our computer.
  • Do not open links or download files that may be sent to us by unknown people through unofficial methods; sometimes phishing is not only done through e-mails, but can also come through social networks or accounts of acquaintances that have been hacked.
  • To avoid spreading, it is important to always analyze removable files before opening them. For example, external memory sticks, as these are very prone to infection by worms and viruses.
  • Delete any file or folder that you do not remember having installed or that you find suspicious. Since the malwares usually install files with specific names where the suspicious codes are stored.

In case we confirm that our device is infected, we can make sure to remove it by factory formatting the device; of course, this will make us lose all our files and valuable information; but it is one of the methods that will ensure that the malware is completely removed.

Seeing these warnings and their consequences, it is our task to take the integrity of our devices seriously. Since we run a great risk of losing valuable information.

Interesting related articles: The Android operating system and its vulnerabilities.

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