Threats on the web - Malware
What is a virus?
What we commonly call "viruses" are all kinds of malicious software (malware), and popular viruses are just one type of malware. What all types of malware have in common is that they work maliciously on a user's device in order to gain specific benefits for the author. Malware in various ways can steal access data to our accounts in all kinds of applications, encrypt valuable data to extort a ransom for its decryption, swap account numbers or cryptocurrency addresses with the author's addresses to steal funds, or, in the case of mobile devices, read text messages with the aim to intercept codes confirming our banking operations.
How do malware infections occur?
Nowadays, there are numerous channels by which malware can be transferred to a victim's device. Portable media, e-mails, instant messaging of all kinds - any of those ways can be used to infect it. A lot of attention used to be paid to attachments and links in e-mails. Today, when a huge part of communication on the Internet has been shifted to instant messengers such as Messenger or WhatsApp, we should remember that also there we can receive infected files or dangerous links. In some cases, attackers do not even have to bother to send a file because we do it ourselves by downloading pirated software. Unfortunately, such illegal copies are additionally equipped with appropriate "extras."
It is worth remembering that, as mentioned many times, malware does not just affect computers. These days, tablets and smartphones are just as at risk of malware infections as they are. On top of the ways described above, you should also be cautious of apps installed seemingly from a trusted source such as app stores. Unfortunately, we can find there mobile software imitating banking, crypto exchanges, or crypto wallets apps. Moreover, among the apps featured in these types of stores we can sometimes find applications that in addition to the purpose indicated by the creator (e.g. enabling a game) also try to steal our data or act in another harmful way. Regrettably, users of Android phones and tablets are much more likely to be exposed to such attacks.
Finally, it is vital to keep in mind that there is also the possibility of malicious links being sent via text messages to mobile devices that are connected to a GSM network.
How can I protect myself against malware?
- Be careful with any links or files you receive - always think twice before clicking on a link in a message, especially if it comes from an unknown source or seems strange to you (e.g., an old friend you have not corresponded with for a few years sends you a link, or you receive a text message about an overdue payment even though you pay your bills regularly).
- Use antivirus software - although antiviruses do not guarantee 100% protection, they can protect us from many dangers.
- Keep your applications and operating system up to date - this will make your computer and other devices immune to exploitation of known bugs found in the software you use.