What is Malware and how is it more important for you now to know about it more than ever. In the past few years, you must have heard one or another incident of a cyber attack on a big corporate, prominent industrialist, or even the government. It all seems far-fetched and even a foreign term until we realize how easily our data and lives could be impacted by it.

So what is Malware?

Malware, short for Malicious Software, is an umbrella term for viruses, worms, trojans, and other harmful computer programs designed to gain unauthorized access and cause extensive damage to data and systems. These can be Computer viruses, trojans, worms, and many others, each having different capabilities to harm your data.

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Why is it essential for you to protect yourself?

Consider it to be a Friday night; you just closed down all those tabs after completing your presentation for next week and ready to get into the weekend. Fast forward to the next day; you open your laptop to take a final glance and find that the whole file has somehow become corrupt and you can't access it. It could be the most dreadful situation for anyone. 

The question here is that how could you recover those files, and more so, is it even possible to do that?

We will get to the hows and why shortly, but let's evaluate the situation at hand first. You would be wondering how this could happen. There could be numerous reasons for the same as these viruses as specifically designed to be the uninvited guest to your system. 

It could have been the shady attachment with an email you clicked on, or that game or song you downloaded from a non-verified source, or even through the abundant sources of pirated movies available online. Any of these could wipe out, change, control, or even keep your data hostage. 

With the progressive advancement in technology and digitization, our lives are interconnected on a digital platform. Our personal data, family details, bank details, where we work, and even our location all could be accessed, which makes it crucial to get the picture of what risks we could face and their prevention.

Here are few examples of what effect malware could have on your data system:

  • Ransomware: Disables victim's access to data until a ransom is paid.
  • Spyware: Collects user activity data without their knowledge.
  • Trojans: Disguises itself as desirable code.
  • Worms: Spreads through a network by replicating itself
  • Bots: Launches a broad flood of attacks
  • Rootkits: Gives hackers remote control of a victim's device
  • Adware: Serves unwanted advertisements

All of these could become intruders in our databases and could wreak havoc in our professional and personal lives. 

How can you protect yourself?

Malware infections can be alarming, dangerous, laborious as well as expensive to deal with. This section can be understood in two parts:

  • Preventive measures
  • Troubleshooting or damage control

Preventive Measures

While there is no foolproof method to avoid these attacks, these are some reliable ways of prevention:

  1. Installing Anti-virus software
  2. Keeping your Operating System Current
  3. Running regularly scheduled scans with your Antivirus software.
  4. Securing our network
  5. Using multiple and strong passwords
  6. Install Firewall
  7. Back up data regularly
  8. Avoid suspicious links and emails

Following these practices will ensure building secure computing habits that protect against malware attacks. Even for an organization, it is critical that the employer encourages and educates his/her employees to identify and steer clear of such threats.

Troubleshooting or damage control

After identifying the malware and the attack it has posed, the first thought is of recovering the data, but the priority should be to minimize further damage.

  • The first and foremost step would be to disconnect the infected machine from the network and isolate any potential attack points. However, the damage control would be different for various types of attacks.
  • Removing the malware is the next step of troubleshooting. It isn't easy to do the same and would require knowledge and expertise for the same. If that is beyond your domain, it is best to refer to an expert.
  • Data recovery services would be the next step. You could recover your data if it has been encrypted or deleted through an expert or third-party service.
  • Preparation for future attacks should include having a reliable backup and disaster recovery strategy in place that predictively prevent your data from the same.

Conclusively, it can be said that a combination of self-awareness, preventive habits, and an efficient security plan would ensure maximum safety for your system.

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