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Malware: what it is and how to best defend yourself

Malware: what it is and how to best defend yourself

In the vast and intricate world of technology, there’s a term that’s frequently mentioned, representing one of the major threats to cybersecurity: Malware.

Malware stands as the most widespread type of cyberattack. It’s estimated that in 2023, Italy intercepted 174,608,112 instances, placing the country at the top spot in Europe and third globally, just behind the United States (417,545,421) and Japan (355,248,073).

But what exactly does the term “malware” mean, and what are its implications? In this article, we’ll delve into this digital threat, providing a clear and accessible overview to help users understand and defend against this menace.

What is Malware?

Malware, short for “malicious software”, is a generic term referring to any program or code intentionally designed to harm computers, networks, or servers.

Malware can steal, encrypt, or delete sensitive data, alter or hijack a computer’s core functions, and monitor user activity without their consent.

Malware can be spread through various means, such as email attachments, downloads from compromised websites, malicious advertising (malvertising), and infected network devices.

To protect against malware, it’s advisable to use anti-malware software, keep systems updated, and practice safe online behavior.

Effects of Malware

The consequences of a malware infection can be devastating. Possible effects include loss of important data, theft of sensitive information like passwords or financial data, damage to the operating system or system files, and compromise of user privacy.

In some cases, malware can even turn an infected device into a tool for large-scale cyberattacks, as seen with botnets.

Furthermore, malware can significantly impact system performance, slowing down daily operations considerably and causing system instability and crashes.

This can have serious repercussions for users, businesses, and organizations, both in terms of productivity loss and the costs of repairing the damage caused by the infection.

Common Types of Malware

There are several types of malware, each designed for specific purposes and employing different methods of distribution and operation. Some of the most common types of malware include:

Viruses: programs that attach themselves to other programs and spread by infecting them.

Worms: malware that self-replicates and spreads automatically without needing a host program.

Trojans: software that appears legitimate but, once installed, performs malicious functions.

Spyware: software that gathers data on computer usage and sends it to an attacker.

Ransomware: malware that encrypts user data and demands a ransom for decryption.

Adware: software, not always malicious, that displays unwanted advertisements and sometimes contains trojans or spyware.

Rootkits: software that gives the attacker administrator privileges on the infected system and hides from the operating system and the user.

Keyloggers: malware that records keystrokes on the keyboard to steal sensitive information.

Cryptojacking: malware that uses the infected computer to mine cryptocurrencies.

Defending Yourself with SGBox

One of the most effective methods of defending against malware is using a cybersecurity platform capable of tracking threats at all times.

The SGBox Next Generation SIEM & SOAR Platform allows for the collection of information from all IT devices, real-time correlation, and analysis of the security status of corporate IT infrastructure.

Thanks to its features, SGBox enables organizations to know the real-time security status of their IT system, promptly detecting any threats and automatically adopting countermeasures to counteract cyber threats before they occur.

In the case of malware specifically, having a platform capable of centralizing logs from every device (computers, IT and OT devices) and monitoring the evolution of malicious software is a crucial factor in reducing the response time to an attack.

Conclusion

Malware stands as one of the major threats to cybersecurity, with the potential to cause significant damage to users, businesses, and organizations.

It’s important to be aware of the risks associated with malware and take preventive measures to protect your devices and data.

In addition to adopting a SIEM & SOAR platform, other precautions are necessary, such as using updated antivirus software, being cautious when clicking on suspicious links or attachments, and keeping the operating system and applications up to date.

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