Tuesday, November 24, 2020

How to Prevent Malware Attacks During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a paradigm shift in workplace practices. Lockdowns and social distancing have led to more people working remotely, both a plus and a risk. There is less time wasted on commutes, but remote working has led to a rise in malware attacks due to weak controls against malware in homes.


Recent campaigns are geared to teach people about the different types of malware and how to keep their data protected. Most corporates are advocating for the vigilance of their staff to avoid getting malware infections. Cybercriminals use various methods to infiltrate systems such as:

  1. Contact tracing apps: Contact tracing is a way of identifying all the people that a COVID-19 positive person has come into contact with in the past two weeks. Once installed, contact tracing apps ask for permission to gain access to your contact lists and expose you to data leaks. Most of the apps use location data to identify and trace the contacts, which makes it easy for cybercriminals to trace you as well.
  2. Cyber-attacks on remote workers: Remote workers who log into their company websites without adequate security settings put their sensitive company data at risk of the many types of malware cybercriminals use. Logging into public Wi-Fi hotspots puts your data at risk of being intercepted by cybercriminals.

Contents

1. Types of Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
  • Adware
  • Phishing
2. Ways to Protect from Malware
  • Activating firewalls
  • Antimalware software
  • Email scanning software
  • Update Device software
  • VPN Installation
  • Data Loss prevention software
  • Email Security Gateways

Types of malware

Malware comes in different forms, keeps evolving, and the malware we saw a decade ago has evolved into something different Some of the malware include:

👉 Ransomware

Ransomware is perhaps one of the most common types of attacks and works as a kidnapping does. When a kidnapper kidnaps a person, they ask for ransom, which is the same concept in ransomware. The cybercriminals take control of your system or devices via encryption and proceed to ask you for payment for them to release an encryption key or leak the data.

The criminals often ask for payment via cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are not traceable. Unlike most malware, which works covertly in the background, ransomware announces its presence by boldly posting alarming messages on the screen.

Once you pay, the hackers send you the decryption key, which is not a guarantee. They might decide not to give you the key and ask for more money or leak your details to the public anyway.

👉 Spyware

Spyware is hardware or software that enables hackers to mine data from your devices covertly. The spyware tracks your every move, from emails, printed documents, and your keystrokes for every word you type and every site you visit. Since the hacker needs no physical contact with your device, you might never know you are being monitored until it’s too late.

👉 Adware

Adware, also known as advertising-supported software, is a form of malware that embeds itself in your device. The malware makes money for its developer by generating automatic advertisements that present themselves on your screen during installation. The software monitors your browsing habits and brings you customized ads according to your online browsing habits.

👉 Phishing

Phishing is as common as ransomware and uses email links that seem to originate from trusted institutions or individuals. Hackers attempt to get sensitive data such as SSID credentials, bank details, your username, and passwords.

Phishing plays on your emotions by injecting a sense of urgency into the email. You might get a call from your bank (or so you think), asking you to log in to their website for one reason or the other. Once you log in with the provided email link or download an attachment in the mail, you are redirected to a bogus site, which proceeds to gather sensitive data from you by prompting you to divulge your details.

Read More about Phishing Attacks >>


Ways protect yourself from Malware

There are many ways to prevents yourself from malware. You can beef up your security by:

1. Activating firewalls

Most good routers come with a built-in firewall that can protect your network and devices from cyberthreats. Activating this firewall prevents attacks and adds a security layer for extra protection. If your router has no firewall, install one, and also activate the firewalls that come installed on your computer.

2. Antimalware software

Antimalware is also the best way to prevent yourself from Malware attacks. This software keeps tracking the different threads running on your system and keep analyzing your system performance. Downloading antimalware software allows you to thwart any attempts by malware to embed into your computer.

3. Email scanning software

Email scanning software effectively scans and detects viruses and malware. Most antimalware comes with this feature, and for those that do not, installing this software is beneficial in preventing infections. The COVID-19 pandemic spam emails will be effectively blocked by this scanner, protecting you from potentially harmful emails.

4. Update Device software

Most people do not update their device software when the device prompts them. When you update your device software, you patch up any security flaws and remove any vulnerabilities and bugs. When developers discover a bug or vulnerability in software, they fix it, release an update, and make the vulnerability public. This public information is what hackers use to hack into devices that have not been updated and use the compromised version.

5. VPN Installation

Downloading a VPN app (Virtual Private Network) will go a long way in protecting your devices. A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your devices and the internet. By providing you with a virtual location, the VPN prevents cybercriminals from detecting your real location and helps to anonymize your browsing.

A VPN also encrypts all your data, preventing the intercepting of your data and protects you from attacks such as Man-in-the-Middle or DDoS (Distributed Denial of service) attacks, especially when logging in from public Wi-Fi hotspots.

6. Data Loss prevention software

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software helps ensure that no unauthorized people access or misuse your data. When using DLP, you need to identify or classify the sensitive information being protected, then take measures in loss prevention.

A DLP system prevents data in your traffic from leaking by determining its confidentiality level. It attaches and analyzes document markers on the documents and evaluates the contents of the documents.

7. Email Security Gateways

Email security (ESG) is a server that protects your internal email server. This server is a gateway through which all your incoming or outgoing emails trickle through. Secure SEG monitors and tracks all your sent and received emails. It also blocks unwanted emails by only delivering relevant emails.


Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to change how they work, and working from home has become a necessity. In the workplace, the systems have sophisticated measures for preventing cyberattacks, which somewhat slows down hackers.

Most home systems are not as well protected, but it is now time for people to stay more vigilant with the recent rise in malware attacks. Before opening an email, think twice and look at its source. And if in doubt, do not open it. Using the above measure will not guarantee you zero hacking attempts, but you will be well protected.


Read Also: What is Phishing Attack? How to be Safe from Phishing Attack?

Tags: protect your computer against viruses, protect the browser from malware, protect your network from malware, prevent malware attacks, ways to remove malware

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