Data Protection Threats: Viruses, Ransomware, and Other Types of Malware
By Matt Brennan
There’s no shortage of data protection threats out there these days. These are perilous times for cybersecurity, and keeping your customers’ information safe. As you may be able to tell from watching the news, companies that collect massive amounts of data must protect themselves from hackers using viruses, ransomware, and other types of malware.
Let’s look at some basic cybersecurity threats and what they mean for those who are looking to protect their data. For many, viruses, malware, and ransomware may feel like interchangeable words that all describe a threat to the system, but they do have subtle differences.
Various Types of Data Protection Threats
How Computer Viruses Work
Computer viruses are one of the most prevalent data protection threats in the real world today. Much like biological viruses, have the ability to spread from host to host, and replicate within the system. Computer viruses need a host to survive the same way the flu virus would. They need the right programming, and that usually resides within a file or a software system.
Viruses alter the way a computer operates, most often with malicious intent. They can cause system-wide effects, such as damaging the software or destroying data. They can spread through email or text attachments or links. Mobile devices are also susceptible.
An antivirus program can offer a tremendous amount of protection. You can also prevent viruses by not clicking on pop-ups or spam links. Scanning your email attachments can also be a good precautionary measure.
How Ransomware Works
Ransomware is another form of malware. But when ransomware interferes with the operation of your system, it demands a payment to restore your computer to its previous condition. Ransomware frequently pops up after what appears to be a phishing attack.
The messages involved look increasingly trustworthy but can be problematic. Simply clicking on them may give an experienced hacker full access to your computer. The hacker then relies on fear to get what they want. They may freeze the entire computer or even threaten to delete files unless their demands are met.
You can protect your computer from ransomware with antivirus software, a strong firewall and strong passwords.
How Malware Works
Malware is a general term for any type of malicious software. Viruses and ransomware are specific types of malware. With malware, the user’s trouble usually begins when they are tricked into clicking on, or installing a program from somewhere else on the internet.
That click then results in the execution of commands that the user never intended. Some of these actions might include:
- Rendering files inaccessible to the user
- Bombardment with ads
- Rendering a device inoperable
- Slowing down the system
- Installing programs that record keystrokes
A few other types of malware include worms, Trojans, and spyware. Antivirus software can also help to protect against malware. Using an active firewall, strong passwords, and a BIOS/UEFI password can all also help. It can also help to use the services of computer or IT specialists to make sure that your defenses are as strong as they could be.
In the Event of Data Loss from Hackers, Rely on the Experts
These data protection threats are very real. It may be tempting to try and recover your own data after a cyber attack. But the more you run your hard drive or install data recovery software, the more you increase the chance of writing over the lost files. The best thing you can do is to contact experienced data recovery professionals to help you recover any lost files.