Malware and other viruses began to exist in the 1970s, more than one billion malware exists today. Cybercriminals especially love these malicious programs because they give them a sense of power.
Apart from having the satisfaction of privacy breaking of both people known to them, strangers, and government entities, cybercriminals love malware because they can make a lot of money with it.
What is a Malware?
Malware is a type of computer virus programmed to steal your personal information such as passwords, bank accounts, consumer data, everything. It can delete or alter your files and programs, slow down your PC, spam you, or hold your data hostage until you pay a ransom.
How do Cybercriminals Benefit from Malware?
Cybercriminals use malware to gain access to your personal information and sell it online to third parties. They can also steal your money directly by hacking your personal bank accounts. Some like the sense of power that it gives them, and they use malware to stalk people, harass them, or steal from them.
Some cybercriminals use malware to gain access to classified information, either because they work for an opposing company and wish to bring down the competition or because they can use that information in various ways to make a profit.
Other cybercriminals use malware to hold your files for ransom. They demand high amounts of money before releasing your data back to you, but there is no guarantee. They usually do this to small companies, but even bigger ones have suffered damage in millions of dollars.
Cybercriminals can also infect your PC with crypto-mining malware, and while your computer gets slower and your electricity bills get higher, the cybercriminals get richer. The biggest benefits cybercriminals get from using malware are money, power, access to sensitive information, and the worst part, it’s almost entirely untraceable.
Tracing a cybercriminal that uses or creates malware is quite tricky. However, when they also use a cryptocurrency, which is also highly untraceable, they also become like an online ghost.
Examples of Malware
Malware work in several ways, and there are many types of malware online, each with its own unique capabilities. Here are a couple of examples of some of the most known online malware:
Crypto-mining malware most often infects a user’s PC when a victim pirates online movies or games. One small compromised exe. The file will then spread in your system and use your computing resources to mine cryptocurrencies. It will use your PC’s CPU and GPU. Sings of this virus include a slow PC, overheating, high electricity costs, device shut-downs, or router/device productivity reduction.
Ransomware is malware that blocks access to an individual computer system. It encrypts your data, denying you access to your own files, folders, or software. You will be asked a sum of money to regain access. It can quickly spread through an entire organization and paralyze it. They infest through email attachments usually, called phishing attacks.
Spyware is malware that secretly steals and gathers information on either a person or organization. It can track all online activity and violate or endanger a person’s privacy. Spyware can infect your devices when you install apps, as they accompany such software, or when you click on suspicious links. Sings of infestation include sluggishness on your device, pop-ups, new toolbars, difficulty logging into secure sites, high data usage, or programs that no longer work.
Trojan horses are deceptive malware that appears as legitimate software at first glance. However, once installed, the trojan horse can’t self replicate. Yet, it can read your passwords, record your activity, and bring in other malware to wreak even more havoc. Deleting, blocking, modifying, or copying data, along with disrupting your PC’s performance, are all signs of trojan infestation.
How to Prevent Malware Infections?
As scary as malware appear to be, there are various ways you can protect your devices from it. First, you should avoid clicking on suspicious links, especially spam emails, or downloading suspicious files. Try to avoid pirating things from the internet.
Secondly, you should always double-check with who you are talking to. Cybercriminals can impersonate people online and send you corrupt files or links. Infested individuals can also send you these things without their knowledge. Thirdly, install an anti-malware or anti-virus on your computer.
Keep your antivirus and your operating systems always up-to-date. Lastly, install a VPN on your PC. A VPN is a virtual private network that allows you to encrypt your online data, avoid trackers, and virtually become anonymous online. Here are 8 reasons why you should be using a good VPN service.
With a VPN, your network becomes invisible when you visit websites. A false network is set in its place. That being said, you can use this to change your location and access geo-restricted content in your country from other countries.