Email attacks have been common since the early days of the internet. Phishing attacks in particular can lure unsuspecting users into giving away their personal information without even realizing it.
Phishing emails include seemingly harmless links. When clicked, they install malicious software (or malware) on a company’s network that can spread through multiple computers.
The dangerous thing about malware is that it quietly sits in the background, collecting information for the attacker without affecting the computer like a virus. The information is later used by the hacker to steal information like credit card numbers, infect computers with ransomware or damage the business operations.
If you are concerned about data theft and email hacking, we are sharing some email security tips that can help you improve your business processes.
What is a Malware?
Malware is the umbrella term for a variety of malicious software. It includes any coded program that is written with the intent of damaging devices, stealing data, and causing problems with other software.
Viruses, Worms, Trojans, spyware, and ransomware are the most common types of malwares that are used by hackers and cyber criminals.
Where Does Malware Come From?
Malware is usually created by teams of hackers and software designers. Their primary purpose is to identify and exploit weaknesses in existing operating systems and business networks.
Most malware designers create these programs to make money. They can do it by using the software themselves or sell it to the highest bidder on the Dark Web.
Interestingly, malware designers are also hired by government agencies and other tech corporations to sabotage or spy on their competitors. More seasoned malware creators are often hired by cyber security and virus protections firms to help them create firewalls and security shields against such attacks.
Apart from monetary gain, there can be other reasons for creating malware too. It can be used as a tool to protest against a policy. Anonymous, a popular alliance of ‘cyber hacktivists’ attacks and damages other organizations that they deem evil by using malware programs.
Types of Malware and How They Work
Viruses are considered the most lethal types of malware. These programs attach to clean files and hardware spreading to other files or hardware that comes into contact with the infected media.
They spread very quickly, damaging a system’s core functionality and deleting or corrupting files. Most viruses work as executable files with the .exe extension.
Unlike viruses, Trojans are designed to remain hidden while attached to legitimate software that has been infected. Trojans are used to discreetly weaken a system’s defense and provide hackers with backdoors to easily enter a system.
Spyware is another hidden malware that is designed to spy on the user. It hides in the background and secretly makes note of what the user is doing.
It can record everything people do on their system and steals information like passwords, credit card information, surfing habits, browsing history etc.
Worms are designed to spread from system to system, infected entire networks of devices that are connected. They can spread either local or through the internet by using network interfaces. One infected device can infect others that get connected to it online.
This is an active kind of malware that reveals itself quickly. Basically, it locks down a computer, device or database by encrypting everything. The hacker can then threaten to delete the files permanently unless the affected business sends them money.
Once the ransom is paid, the hacker provides a decryption key that can be used to recover the data.
Adware is not always malicious in nature but it can slow down a device by using its resources. The main purpose of an adware is to serve ads to the user. However, aggressive advertising software can undermine your security just to serve you ads through pop-ups all the time.. This can give other malware an easy way in.
Malware Protection Tactics
Protecting against malware is easier when you use your digital devices responsibly. Implementing good practices in your personal and workplace computers systems improves database and email security.
Here are some useful tactics to follow.
1. Don’t trust strangers online!
Do NOT click on strange emails, abrupt alerts, fake profiles, and curiosity-tickling offers while browsing. These are the #1 method of delivering and installing malware on your system. If you don’t know exactly what it is, do not click on it.
2. Double-check your downloads!
Malware can be used to attach to everything from legal digital stores to online pirating sites. Before you start downloading, always double-check that the provider is trustworthy by reading reviews and comments. Once you have downloaded something, run a virus scan on the file before you open it.
3. Get a Malware Protection Software!
There are plenty of good antivirus and anti malware software online that can be used to protect your system. Take malware bytes for example. It has been in use for over two decades and trusted as the number one protection software by millions. If you are looking for a good free malware protection, you can also try Avira, AVG, Avast, Bitedefender and SpyBot among others.
4. Be Careful where you browse!
Malware is everywhere when you surf online. It is most commonly found in websites that have poor backend security. This is the case with most small, less known websites. If you only stick to large, reputable sites, you will have a better chance to avoid catching malware.
5. Use Multi Tier Authentication!
This may sound technical, but it is quite easy to set up and use two-tier authentication. Instead of providing a single password from one source, users are required to provide an additional password that is randomly generated and sent to their designated number or mailing address. The method adds an extra layer of protection to your emails and computer networks making it much more difficult for hackers to break in.
Getting infected with malware can be anything from a minor nuisance to a devastating business experience. There are cases where businesses were infected with malicious ransomware and had to pay millions of dollars to get their data back.
By following proper precautionary measures you can increase your chance of keeping your systems safe and secure.