What are the different types of malware? And how-to protect against them

There are different types of malware and other viruses rising on the internet. Thousands of internet users are under attack by such malwares. One of the main ways to protect ourselves from a cyber attack is to know what we are dealing with. Therefore, if we want to use new technologies, we must all be very clear: what is malware, what types exist, how they are used and how we can protect ourselves against them. Do you know what malware is? We tell you.

The term computer virus is one of many that are used when referring to a malicious program or code that has been designed to attack our computer systems or devices. It is an easy term for everyone to understand, but in reality, with it we are only referring to one of the many types of malware that we can face. 

The specific and correct term is malware. This word comes from the combination of software and malicious, or malicious in English. And with it we refer to all kinds of dangerous software, be it a program, an application, or a simple code, a fragment of a code that, when entering a system or device, attacks, infects or spies on it. 

The different types of malware that have been created throughout the history of computing is so wide that it is very difficult to summarize in a few sentences what these software are capable of. So we can say that mostly malware aims to

  • Establish a remote control with which the attacker or cybercriminal can remotely use the infected machine.
  • Use that machine to send spam messages or infected documents to other devices to create a wider victim network
  • Steal sensitive data from the victim

As this is a very generic definition, we are going to stop at some types of malware to better understand the danger they pose today.

Different types of malware that are dangerous

  • Viruses: We have already talked before about the computer virus that arrives through infected programs or applications, when you start them the virus is activated and the first consequence may be that the device slows down, but it can erase the entire hard drive.
  • Worm: Then we find the worms that are capable of replicating themselves, of spreading to other devices and networks. They tend to go unnoticed, hidden in RAM until they spread throughout the system and consume many resources.
  • Trojan: Unlike these two previous examples, Trojans disguise themselves as legitimate and completely harmless software, and once installed they engage in all kinds of tasks such as stealing.
  • Spyware: This is also what spyware whose objective is to steal the victim’s personal information and then extort it or make it public.
  • Ransomware: Something similar does ransomware, but this software locks the device and prevents users from recovering what they saved on it, so it is important to make backup copies. Cybercriminals then demand a ransom in exchange for recovering those confiscated files or systems. This is one of the main threats to companies and institutions.
  • Adware: Very different is the adware, a kind of malware that is not as dangerous as others, because coming into the system its main function is to display advertisements on the Internet or windows while you are using any program.
  • Rogueware: finally there is the rogueware that disguises itself as a help program, such as an antivirus to indicate that you perform an action, pretends that it is helping you to fix a system failure but is actually leading you to a second, much more dangerous malware that you end up installing on the computer.

As you can see, there is such a wide variety that the same attack can be qualified in several ways and use two techniques at the same time. Three years ago it was estimated that 16 new malware were created every minute, while in 2020 the INCIBE (National Cybersecurity Institute) recorded 24% more cybersecurity incidents than in 2019. 

Threats in the network are increasingly varied, dangerous and frequent, that is why it is important to be informed about the news in cybersecurity and to follow the advice of experts, even if it seems like a daunting task. 

How can we protect ourselves against different types of malware attacks? 

Protect against different types of malware
Cyber security

There is no magic formula or miracle program that ensures a 100% level of protection against malware attacks. To surf the internet or use any of the new technologies that are coming into our lives, the best cybersecurity tools are the same as those recommended when driving or walking on the street: we must be informed of the dangers that we may encounter, to know how the device we are using works to a greater or lesser extent and we must be cautious and use common sense to detect plots and scams that are on the internet. Follow these steps to protect against malware attacks..

  • Antivirus: It is always advisable to have a good antivirus on all the devices we have, mobile phones, computers, tablets, and always keep them updated. 
  • Update: We must have all programs, operating systems and devices updated with the latest version. Cybercriminals develop new malware or improve it at an alarming rate, so software and operating system developers update their codes to keep us protected from almost all new attacks that are detected on the network. 
  • Passwords: it is important to change them periodically and use a manager so as not to forget any and that this security system is simpler and more comfortable. 
  • Double factor authentication: Whenever a tool or application allows it, enable double factor authentication for greater security.
  • Backup copies: Faced with any problem with an application or device, it is important to have backup copies of your data, photos, documents… Make sure that the copies are also properly protected and not in any cloud system that could be hacked if you they steal email and password.
  • Offers: do not trust any very striking offer that you send or see on the net. Never click on the link, consult the web independently.
  • Applications: it is important to be careful with the applications that we download. Many have malware inside them. They offer games, tools to scan QR codes, horoscope readings, they even mimic very popular apps like Zoom or Clubhouse and are a scam. 
  • Ask for help: When in doubt, it is important to ask for help from the authorities such as the Civil Guard or the INCIBE telephone line (017) where they can tell us what to do in the event of an attack or suspicious message.

By following these tips and being informed of the threats that are detected (in Computer Hoy we report many of the known viruses and scams) it is possible to strengthen the security and protection of data and devices, although the most important thing is to always be alert, because risk can be reduced, but never completely gone.

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