Every day as we use our devices, browse the internet and open emails, we are also exposing those devices to potential malware (malicious software). Malware is any software that is designed to cause damage to and/or unauthorized access to devices or networks. Malware comes in many forms, all of which can have negative effects on your device and for you. With a little extra vigilance, and some good habits and practices, you can greatly reduce your likelihood of having a device infected with malware and can minimize the impact to your device, data, and life, in the event that it does become infected. Below we will explore a few common types of malware and their impacts, as well as some tips and practices that can help you as you go about your connected life.
Ransomware – Ransomware is malware that stops you from being able to access your files, usually by encrypting them, and then requests payment to decrypt the files, restoring your access. Most commonly, ransomware asks for payment in bitcoin, which is a popular cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, paying the ransom does not guarantee restoring access to your files.
Trojan Horses (a.k.a. trojans) – This malware takes its name from the classic story of the Greek army sneaking soldiers into the city of Troy hidden inside a large wooden horse. Trojans of the malware variety behave in much the same way, by appearing to be legitimate apps or software that you want to install. Some trojans allow an attacker full access to your device, others steal banking and personally sensitive information, and others are simply used to download additional malware, like ransomware.
Keyloggers – This type of malware records your keystrokes and sends them to a cyber threat actor, giving them access to your usernames, passwords, and any other sensitive information you have entered using your keyboard. With this information, the cyber threat actor can access your online accounts or commit identity theft.
These tips are brought to you in the Commonwealth of Virginia by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency in coordination with: