What is malware? How malware works & how to remove it
Malware continues to be one of the biggest threats targeting internet devices and other IT-related installations in 2020. Over the past, year, over 7 billion malware attacks were launched according to security reports. Around 280 million malicious software was created between the third quarter of 2019 and mid-2020 accounting for over 50% of cyberthreats in this period. This data only goes to show just how dangerous malware and how it works has become and why you need to know how to protect your devices.
What is malware?
Malware and how it works is a term coined from the words malicious and software meaning it’s any piece of software that is sorely created to cause some sort of damage or do some illegal activity on a device. The term malware is often used to refer to any type of virus or nefarious program that can affect a wide range of devices including mobile phones, laptops, and servers.
Over the years, malware has become more sophisticated and dangerous that it is now used to attack even the most secure devices and networks across the world. Take for example the much-talked-about Stuxnet malware that not only infected over 200,000 devices but also successfully infiltrated a nuclear base’s IT infrastructure as was originally intended.
How malware spreads
Malware and how it works spreads mainly through infected files, compromised websites, malicious links, and physical storage media. A new spreading method also involves mobile applications that may sometimes be available on official app stores and markets. By downloading an infected file or visiting a malicious link, the malware will be able to hide in your device and start doing what it was intended to do.
What does malware do?
There are potentially hundreds of malicious things one malicious software can do to your device or network once it has infected it depending on the executable instructions embedded in its code. Here are some of them:
Deleting or corrupting your files and filesystems -This can include files stored on secured folders, external devices, network-attached storage, and files in devices in your local network.
Stealing your information-Some malware may be programmed to read your device’s filesystem and upload any files that are deemed important to a remote server. This can include critical company files, personal photos, videos, and password data. This information could later be sold in the dark market, for identity theft or other nefarious activities.
Destroy or slow your devices– Some malware will just take up a lot of your device’s processing resources and physical memory thus slowing it down and inconveniencing you. This type of malware is not harmful and is easy to remove but could later be used to launch other dangerous attacks or take control of your device.
Display Advertisements- In the recent past, malware has been used to display ads on user devices without their permission. They are normally embedded into normal applications and download advertisements in the background that they will overlay over any installed application from time to time. This kind of malware may be harmless but can be annoying and cause your device and internet speeds to slow down.
How to remove malware
There are several ways you can deal with malware that is already installed on your devices. However, the surest way remains to download antimalware software and using it to detect and remove malware that is on your device. You can check out antimalware software on the internet and install it on any device you suspect has malware in it. The antimalware software may also prevent new malware from infecting your devices.
If you are not sure if you have malware on your device, then watch out for the following signs:
- If your device is getting slower, hanging, or draining its battery faster than it should. Usually, malware will use a lot of resources in the background to do whatever it’s meant to do. Looking at your device’s process manager may not show what is using all that processing power.
- If you see unexplained display ads on your device.
- If you are using too much data or bandwidth even when you are not streaming or on the internet.
- If your device memory or attached storage starts filling up without reason.
- If your files or folders disappear, are corrupted or renamed without your input.
- If you see strange apps or programs that you did not install in your device.
Malware and how it works can be dangerous if not detected early and removed or destroyed. It’s important, therefore, to take a proactive approach to the security of your devices to prevent infection. Stay safe!