How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft And Malware

The start of the pandemic has driven people indoors with individuals taking to the internet for functions like remote work. However, there’s an adverse side to this mass adoption of the internet. Since the major shift to the internet because of the coronavirus, malware attacks have increased around the world. It has led to a cybersecurity frenzy, leading remote employees to frantically search the keywords ‘How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft And Malware’ on search engines.

How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft and malware

Malware Attacks on Firms and Individuals During COVID-19

Individuals and businesses alike have been targeted with malware. In April, VMware Carbon Black reported that organizations have experienced a 148% increase in ransomware attacks. Coverware, a ransomware-tackling website, also revealed in July 2020 that the average ransomware payment for the second quarter of the year was around the $178,000 mark.

The FBI also reported that cyber-attack complaints have reached a high of 4,000 cases every day. Before the virus, the cases reported used to be less than one thousand. Interpol has also divulged that governments, health organizations, and firms have been the biggest targets in this wave of attacks.

Crossing over to individual attacks, hackers are masking malware as contact tracing apps. Contract tracing software is meant to alert people if they’ve been exposed to individuals with the COVID-19 virus. Since governments all over the world have been releasing official apps to this effect, cybercriminals are also getting busy. So you must know how to protect yourself from phishing and fraud activity on the internet.

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In at least 3 countries, these fake apps containing malicious software collected online banking data from victims. Android users were the targets, and the apps were downloaded using external links. None was on Google PlayStore.

In light of these numerous attacks, you need to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft, both as an individual and as an employee. Below, you’ll find the most prominent malware threats in the computer space.

Existing Malware Threats in the CyberSpace

1. Virus

A virus is a type of malware that is parasitic. They start operating once the program they’re attached to gets launched.

Computer viruses used to be common in cyberspace. Today, they make up less than one in ten cases of malware infections. Viruses are unique in the sense that they’re the only class of malware that infect legitimate programs.

They’re hard to get rid of because they blend into the original software. Antivirus programs typically isolate the files that have been infected or remove them totally from the device.

2. Worms

Worms have existed for a very long time, right from the early days of the computer. Throughout the 1990s, they infected computer users via spam email attachments.

The danger with worms is that they reproduce other worms in a fast manner. Also, they don’t even require human action to spread through a computer. Because of this factor, worms infect a large number of devices in a very short amount of time.

Hackers used worms in the early days of internet adoption to spread texts and messages. The Iloveyou Worm affected virtually every email user in the world at the time.

3. Trojans

Trojans were considered more effective than worms because of their ability to remain undiscovered. Victims of this type of malware download the trojans disguised as legit programs. Trojans have affected a big percentage of devices in use today.

For the trojan malware to operate efficiently, it needs user action. In other words, victims need to run the program before the infection gets executed. If you’ve ever visited a website that showed ad pop-ups of antivirus programs, it means you were the target of a Trojan.

4. Ransomware

Here you can know how to protect yourself from ransomware, Ransomware is a direct type of malware developed by hackers seeking money. Once you’re infected with ransomware, you lose access to all your files on your computer. There’d be a message displaying an address – usually cryptocurrency- to make payment to.

how to protect yourself from ransomware
how to protect yourself from ransomware

Cybercriminals behind ransomware threaten to delete all your data if payment is not made in a limited number of days. There have been cases where the victims paid the ransom but still had their files deleted. Ransomware typically affects individuals and small to medium businesses. The ransom ranges from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands.

5. Adware

Adware particularly pushes promotions to a computer it affects. They’re majorly used for malicious advertising and can redirect your web traffic to a different website. Some forms of adware can intercept your search and land you on a website similar to the one you tried to launch.

6. Malvertising

Malvertising is different from adware in the sense that it uses websites to send malware to your computer. On the other hand, adware uses malware to direct you to a malicious website.

You can visit a website, click on an advert, and the landing page will forcefully download a program on your system. The malicious program on your computer can even get executed without action from you. Malvertising is dangerous because it can originate from a legitimate website. The only bad actor in that kind of event would be the advertiser.

It can be used to transfer any type of malware including trojans, ransomware, and so on.

How to Protect Yourself against Malware Attacks

1. Get Rid of Outdated Software

You need to learn how to protect yourself from human trafficking by removing programs on your system that don’t receive regular updates. One of the most prominent ways to sneak in malware to a device is through obsolete software. When we talk about software, it means your operating system, computer programs, and plug-ins.

If the software you’re using still receives updates, you can upgrade to the latest version. Every single update contains improved security features, making it more difficult for hackers to breach your device. Updates provide sufficient security against some types of malware like ransomware. In 2017, obsolete versions of the Windows OS allowed ransomware hackers to infect numerous computers used by the UK’s health system.

Ensure you activate automatic updates on your device too. It can be done on the major operating systems today.

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2. Be Careful with Emails

Since electronic messaging is used en masse to infect computers with malware, you need to learn how to protect yourself from email malware. First, avoid opening emails from senders you don’t know. Second, before downloading any email attachment from a sender you know, call and confirm that the person sent the mail.

Take the same measures if you see any link in any email. Hover above the link to see where it leads. If the URL address looks suspicious or unprofessional, refrain from clicking the link. If the grammar used in an email is bad, then it’s likely from a hacker. Bad grammar is utilized by cybercriminals to avoid spam filters.

3. Get Firewall and Anti-Malware Programs

Major operating systems like Windows and Apple come with their firewall systems. To take advantage of its operations, ensure they’re activated. If you want extra security, you can download another trusted firewall program after verifying its authenticity. Read carefully how to protect yourself by using the firewall and antimalware programs.

Firewalls are beneficial because they stop malicious data packets from getting into your system. They’re referred to as the premier wall to be encountered by malware. If your firewall fails to recognize the malware, that’s where anti-malware steps in.

Anti-malware programs detect, quarantine, and remove existing malware in your system. They help in terms of preventing malware from getting to your device too. In essence, this form of multi-layered security enhances your defense against malware.

4. Watch the Websites you Visit

Since malware can be installed onto your computer in a drive-by download, watch the websites you visit. This helps to limit malvertising and boost the chances of this particular measure on how to protect yourself against identity theft.

Whenever you visit a website, check for the padlock sign near the address bar. It means your activity on that website is encrypted with SSL security to a certain level. Although hackers can use SSL secured websites to perform hacks, it’s better to still check for it.

5. Download a Virtual Private Network

Privacy and security are what VPNs are for. The app can protect against malware in two ways. First, VPNs keep a list of harmful websites and prevent your access to these websites. If you’re hit by malvertising and the URL of the landing page has been blacklisted by your VPN, the website won’t open.

The second way VPNs protect users is by preventing malware spread on public Wi-Fi. Hackers sometimes penetrate Wi-Fi networks to spy on user activity and infect users with malware. The app protects you from both malicious actions through its encryption service.

Final Thoughts

Attacks in cyberspace have increased since the start of the pandemic. Hackers have started ramping up efforts with malware to wean data and money from various computer users all over the world. The most prominent types of malware being used are ransomware, trojans, and malvertising.

how to protect yourself from human trafficking and from falling victim is to take proper security measures. These measures include watchfulness of visited websites, updating system software, using a VPN, anti-malware, and firewall as security tools, and practicing email security.

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