Everything About Malware & How to Protect Your Business

According to a recent report, malware attacks increased by 358% more in 2020 than the previous year. What’s scary is that malware seems to evolve and grow, with a different type of attack emerging every year. Therefore, businesses have to stay alert by taking new, proactive measures to ensure they don’t fall victim to these malicious attacks.

In this article, we take a comprehensive look into the different types of malware, their impact on your business, and how to protect yourself. 

What is Malware?

Malicious software, commonly known as malware, refers to a program that damages, infects, or disrupts files within an unsuspecting victim’s computer. It is a sophisticated code that cybercriminals create to give them access to the infected computer’s network. In most instances, the code destroys or harms files and data within that particular network.

Malware can hide within legitimate files or software applications for users to unknowingly download. However, it can be identified by its ill-natured intent to modify or access services and data on a network or system. Usually, malware exploits any design or security defects in a system or software to gain access.

Common Types of Malware

There are many forms of malware that affect every type of business. However, the most recent variants are more aggressive and much stronger than their earlier counterparts. Here is a detailed breakdown of the five most likely forms of malware that can currently infiltrate your company’s network.

Virus

Computer viruses get deployed into your computer once you open an infected file. The most common methods of spreading a virus include email and online attachments. Although viruses tend to do very little, some can destroy your operating system. 

Ransomware

This is a type of malware that has made it to the news on several occasions. For starters, ransomware will hold your computer files hostage until specific demands are met. Usually, the data is encrypted to ensure you have no option but to release the funds. Ransomware spreads similarly to viruses.

Worms

Although worms are commonly mistaken for viruses, there is a vast distinction between the two — unlike viruses, worms can replicate themselves. Therefore, they don’t need human interaction to spread from one computer to the next. Once worms infiltrate your system, they work by sending out infected emails to your contact list.

Phishing

Phishing occurs when emails or websites masquerade themselves as legitimate sources. It is a common scam that fools you into entering financial and personal details into a false link. In most cases, phishing links appear within suspicious emails.

Trojans

This type of malware is either hidden in legitimate software or disguises itself as legitimate software. The installed program will function normally while the Trojan malware works in the background. It tends to work discretely to let other malware into your system.

How Malware Threatens Your Business

Because malware is designed with different intentions in mind, they have contrasting impacts on organizations. A well-executed attack can cripple your establishment by halting day-to-day operations. Below are the prime effects of malware on businesses:

Disrupts / Disables Your Services

Did you know that malware attacks can bring down an entire site? Doing this will disable or disrupt services within your organization. Therefore, your business will suffer considerable downtime, resulting in substantial financial losses.

Leads to Loss of Sensitive Information

Your company’s computer has years’ worth of sensitive information. A malware attack can copy all this information while wiping it from your system. Having your company’s confidential data in a stranger’s hands can be rather scary. Equally, it is almost impossible to retrieve the data if you didn’t have a backup.

Damages Your Brand’s Reputation

Your brand name is important in today’s business world. For starters, consumers identify with your company and foster trust through the brand. When malware affects your system, it may gain access to consumer data. Your customers will immediately blame your business for not taking the initiative to safeguard their privacy.

Affects Network Performance

Malware can completely block your network or slow it down by increasing traffic. Doing this will interfere with your day-to-day business operations. A decrease in performance will have a massive impact on your profit margin.

How to Protect Your Business Against Malware

It is almost impossible to shield your business from every single threat. Therefore, protecting your business from malware starts with making yourself as challenging a target as possible. Taking the following proactive steps will help safeguard your business against malware.

Be Aware

Most business owners aren’t aware of the different forms of malware that threaten their company. Therefore, they have a false sense of security until it is too late. Knowing what types of malware attacks to expect will help you build a robust system.

Turn to Data Encryption

Malware can always make its way into your system despite instituting numerous security protocols. However, encrypting your data will guarantee that unauthorized personnel can’t gain access to sensitive information. Most software companies provide several encryption applications that suit your business needs.

Ensure you Use a Secure Network

Although your business connects to the internet through different applications, every operation occurs within a single network. Therefore, ensure you have a secure network connection by establishing a firewall. Doing this is an excellent way of monitoring threats and getting control over your system.

Install a Security System

Do not make the mistake of thinking an antivirus installation is a sufficient security from malware. Your business needs multiple layers of security, including anti-ransomware and anti-malware. It will also help to evaluate your security system for any weaknesses.

Regularly Schedule Updates

It is vital to keep everything up to date once you install a viable security system. Because malware is constantly evolving, regular updates will keep you one step ahead. For starters, these updates come with security patches to help detect new forms of malware.

Educate Your Staff

It is common for an employee to click on the wrong link and cripple your entire organization. Ensure you educate your staff about the various forms of malware and how to identify them. Several workshops specialize in employee education on cybersecurity attacks.

Institute an Emergency Response Plan

Every savvy business owner knows to expect the worst and hope for the best. Therefore, you need to set up a strict company guideline on how to identify malware attacks and what to do in case it happens. The faster your organization can stop an attack, the less damage you can expect.

Have a File Backup

Your backups need to have a dedicated security system. Doing this will save you the pain and pressure of having to start from scratch. Backing up your files will also ensure your business can resume normal operations as soon as possible. However, it will help to schedule regular updates to minimize data losses. 

Seek Expert Help

Safeguarding your business from malware will ensure daily operations are not disrupted. Therefore, it is time to consider working with a team of experts in cybersecurity. At Contego Inc., we work as part of your IT team to help you identify IT security risks. Ensure you arrange a Free Cyber Threat Assessment to defend your organization from security risks and cyber threats. 



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