How malware can infect your PC?

Did you know that clicking on a link or opening a video on a website would initiate a malware infection on your personal computers? Malware has been around for as long as software has, been, and has equally improved over that time.

Today’s malware is much more sophisticated than it was, say five years ago, and can get into your pc more easily than ever imagined before.

An increase in malware infection attacks during covid-19

Over 270 million attacks were reported this year between June and March with attacks predicted to increase in the coming days. The fact that more people are now turning to their internet devices to work has made the business of creating and distributing dangerous malware quite attractive to the criminal cyberspace. Indeed, if recent media reports are to go by, then the lockdown situation has actually led to a huge spike in malware infections and direct hack attacks.

There is no doubt that you or someone close might have a run-in with dangerous a malware infection in the near future. The most important thing you should, therefore, worry about is how to prevent it from happening and what to do if you are a victim. In doing this, you need to know the answers to the following questions:

  • What is Malware?
  • How does it infect your PC?
  • How Do you Prevent Malware infections?
  • How to remove Malware from your PC
  • How do you stay secure on the Internet?

What is malware?

The term malware comes from the words malicious and software. Malware is any software that was created to perform some malicious action in a computer system. There are as many types of malware as there is genuine software created to perform all manner of things at the behest of the programmer.

Some malware may be responsible for mildly annoying but harmless activities like changing the colors of your folders while others can be used to take control of your PC, delete files, steal your online banking information, or spy on you using your webcam.

How does malware infect your pc?

There are more than a dozen ways you can inadvertently get your PC infected by malware. Most of the delivery methods (or spreading techniques as they are referred to in the criminal cyberspace) are done through the internet. Here are some of them and how you can prevent them:

1.   Through unsecured/compromised networks

It has become very common to find people getting their devices infected with dangerous malware through unsecured or compromised networks. That free WIFI hotspot you like using while you take your coffee could be compromised and being used to drop all kinds of malware or for direct hacking attacks. You can prevent this from happening by using a VPN every time you connect to a new or public WIFI hotspot.

2.   Malicious web links and URLs

This is, by far, the most common method used to drop malware on unsuspecting users’ computers. You can get infected by visiting an infected URL or clicking on a link on a website, email, or social media. The malware is usually downloaded silently in the background and installed on your PC without your knowledge.

Avoid clicking on links from untrusted sources and use anti-malware software to detect the malware before it gets downloaded and installed on your computer. The best anti-malware software will be able to check every URL or link you visit on your browser, any downloaded programs, and delete malware before it does any damage to your PC.

3.   Infected files on external devices

If the USB stick, SD card or smartphone you plug into your PC has infected files or programs in it, then it’s most likely that the malware on it will be transferred to your PC. This is also, one of the most common and hard-to-detect “spreading” methods used to spread dangerous malware especially on company PCs.  As a real-life example, Stuxnet– one of the most sophisticated malware to date was first spread using USB sticks and ended up destroying several nuclear devices in an Iranian nuclear base.

4.   Malicious email attachments

This is another preferred malware delivery method that is still quite effective especially for those who use private corporate email servers (public email servers such as Gmail have improved their malware detection and removal capabilities over time). You can get your PC infected easily if you download an infected email attachment. Sometimes the person sending the email attachment may not know if their computer is infected and using them as a host to spread the malware to their email contacts.

In conclusion, how you go about using your PC and the internet is important if you want to prevent malware infection. Having a VPN and anti-malware software would go a long way in helping you stay safe.

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