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What the differences between Malware, Ransomware, & Spyware are and how to protect yourself against them…

Getting a virus or bug on your computer can be a very frustrating thing. If it has happened to you before then you’re already aware of the painful and lengthy process it can take to get rid of them. If you have never experienced a bug or virus on your computer, tablet, or phone but aren’t exactly sure how you could get them, what the differences are between them, or how to protect yourself against them then this is the article for you!

Let’s first start off by recognizing the three most popular “online threats” that could potentially cause you malicious harm. These include malware, ransomware, and spyware.

You have probably heard of the term “malware” before unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years, but regardless of whether you have or haven’t it has unquestionably become a popularized term across the internet. The definition of malware is defined as, “software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system.”

“The Three Most Popular Online Threats”

What does that really mean though? Is ransomware considered malware? Or what about spyware? Well first off, malware or “malicious fraud” is simply a blanket term that describes any sort of code or program that could potentially cause your computer or technological device harm. So, to answer the questions above… Yes, ransomware and spyware are both considered forms of malware. But here’s where it gets sort of complicated…

Ransomware is an advanced type of malware that forcefully restricts the access to a user’s computer system until he or she pays a “ransom fee”, which is why the term was coined “ransomware”. An example of this would be if you log onto your computer and your screen shows a pop-up warning that you have been restricted from using your computer until a stated fee is paid to the hacker.

If you ever happen to become subject to ransomware it is suggested that you do not pay the fee. Doing so only encourages the hacker to continue his antics on elsewhere. Also, there is no assurance that the hacker will allow you to regain access after the ransom is paid. Using a secure email provider, such as NeoCertified, will help to minimize the chance of yourself becoming subject to ransomware. It is also important to use a trustworthy antivirus software and firewall to maintain the safety of your files and personal information you may keep on your computer, tablet, or cellphone. Norton is an excellent choice when looking to choose an antivirus program that uses up-to-date software and maintains its firewalls to ensure that cybercriminals will not breach your information. Getting in the habit of routinely backing up your files every 30 days will also help to recover any files you may lose during a ransomware breach.  

Spyware

Spyware is another type of malware that affects your computing device, however, unlike ransomware, it usually goes undetected until something is stolen that the user notices. Spyware is particularly used to steal your identity, track your online passwords, and can even be used to steal your internet usage data. Spyware is not only a threat to the individual user but also to small and medium-sized businesses due to the fact that it can damage your network and steal sensitive information.

Spyware can be classified into four different types of software, these include adware, trojans, tracking cookies, and system monitors. Adware and tracking cookies are a type of legal spyware that tracks your browser history and anything that you download so it can formulate a marketing scheme to try and persuade you to purchase something online. Adware and tracking cookies can also slow your computing device down dramatically depending on how deep the software has breached.

A trojan is another type of malicious software that is classified as spyware, and it works as “disguised” malware that is usually controlled by a third-party user and works to expose personal or private information on your device.

System monitors, similar to adware, works to record typing patterns, emails, websites you may visit, downloads and programs ran so it can breach your privacy and steal information.

 

How Does One Come Into Contact With Malicious Software?

Now that we’ve covered the different types of malicious software, you may be asking yourself how do I get it? One of the most popular ways you can come into contact with malicious software is by downloading external links in fraudulent emails. It is always important to check who the sender of your email message is before you download any links or codes attached. Illegally downloading media such as movies, music, or games can also expose you to the dangers of fraud, and downloading software from undependable sources will more than likely produce the same outcome.

Malicious activity can be very hard to recognize because it is designed to not be detected however there are a few tips that will help you to figure out if your device is infected or not. If you experience abnormal pop-ups in your browser or an excessive amount of them, this usually is a sign that your computer has become infected. Also, if your device unexpectantly crashes or is running at an extremely slow rate, then you should be worried about a potential breach. If you happen to notice your hard drive is randomly filling up, and you are losing a lot of memory then this another sign that your computer or device has become breached. Finally, if you are trying to log into an online account and your password doesn’t seem to be working, resetting the password immediately could help to stop any potential breach.   

Malicious activity can be a very hard to recognize because it is designed to not be detected however there are a few tips that will help you to figure out if your device is infected or not. If you experience abnormal pop-ups in your browser or an excessive amount of them, this usually is a sign that your computer has become infected. Also, if your device unexpectantly crashes or is running at an extremely slow rate, then you should be worried about a potential breach. Finally, if you happen to notice your hard drive is randomly filling up, and you are losing a lot of memory then this another sign that your computer or device has become breached.

Review

Now, let’s review… It is important to understand that malware is merely just a term used to describe any unwanted or damageable software that is causing a computing device technological harm. So now, whenever you hear or see the term malware you will know exactly what it means.

Malware can take many different forms and it can be hard to know if your device is malfunctioning from it. To make things a bit easier in knowing if your device is infected or not, follow these guidelines… If your device seems to be operating at an irregular speed than that should indicate your computing system may be subject to malicious software. Also, if you are experiencing any pop-ups in your browser or an excessive amount of them this should be another warning sign. If you happen to notice that your hard drive is randomly filling up with space that you know isn’t from your own files or documents then again, this could mean your device has been infected. Lastly, if you notice that your device is running at an abnormal speed, or it seems to be crashing randomly then you should be concerned of malicious software infiltrating your system. 

If you are under the impression that your device has become subject to malicious fraud it is important that you immediately run a security scan on your computer with the most up-to-date software, and install a trustworthy firewall security system. After doing so, you’ll want to download and run a virus removal tool across your device, and then contact the maker of your device so they can further evaluate the problem. You may also want to take your device into a virus repair store for them to make sure there is no malicious software remaining on your system.

Becoming subject to malware, spyware, or ransomware can be a very anxiety-ridden venture. Don’t click or download external links from unknown sources or websites, don’t submit payment across unsecured websites, and try to refrain from downloading pirated material. In the long run, this will help you to maintain your digital security and privacy.      

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