Following the App store breach last September with XcodeGhost affecting over 50 iOS apps, the prevalence of malware and its potential for damage has never been more apparent. This makes it important for everyone, not just IT professionals, to understand fully just what malware is and how it functions.
Malware is a term used to describe Malicious Software. It is software designed specifically to damage, disrupt, and impair a system without your permission. Malware is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software. These can include: computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, randomware, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs.
Since 2011, the most common form of malware has been the Trojan. This type of software is typically a destructive program designed to look like a benign application on your system, that will introduce more harmful viruses to your computer. While a Trojan can wreak havoc to your system, it requires user interaction to spread a virus throughout the system. Trojans can be spread through opening an email attachment or downloading and running an untrusted file from the internet. Unlike the viruses and worms they place onto a user’s system, Trojans have been known to create back doors to give malicious users access to the system.
While malware can take many forms, not all types are inherently destructive. A new trend being dubbed ‘Malvertising’ has seen a tremendous spike since 2014. This is malware served by an ad network with the intent of capturing user activity data for market research. While it may be as simple as tracking a list of your MP3 files to serve you more personalized music ads, the potential for this malware is quite alarming. This software has the potential to log your keystrokes in order to steal your passwords, observe your browsing history, spawn pop-up windows, redirect your browser to phishing pages, or report your personal information to distant servers. While the ad networks serving this ‘malvertising’ claim to only use this data for market research purposes, it can be an unsettling thought allowing an individual that much control or insight into your online activities.
Unfortunately, avoiding malware issues is not a one-time fix. It requires a long-term plan of constant vigilance, consistent cleaning, and a trusted source in the anti-malware software you use. With malware methods constantly adapting, protection software must do its best to keep up as well. Another trusted option is to rely on your managed service provider to take care of your security needs. There are many methods an MSP can use to protect your system from malware in order to keep your network safe. To learn how CRTG can help, check out our Sentinel Proactive Monitoring service or our Hosted Security options. Or if you would like to continue the conversation with us, fill out a contact form, or talk to us on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages.