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How to Prevent Malware Attacks

how to prevent malware attacks

The average cost of a data breach reached $3.86 million as per IBM’s study report. Rising malware spread has put many companies in trouble as the online presence of a business is increasing in today’s era. 

Along with the growth of the online business, concern about online store security has also soared. You have heard terms like a virus, malware, trojan in your daily life. 

Malware is a prime suspect in any data breach as the average cost of a breach due to malware attacks is higher than the overall data breach cost. In this short piece of information, we will focus on malware, types, and tips to prevent malware attacks stepwise.

What is Malware?

Malware is a type of malicious file or program that is catastrophic to a computer user, designed to cause extensive damage to a website or application. 

Different types of malware attacks include Worm, Ransomware, Adware, Spyware, Virus, Rootkit, Trojans, Fileless malware, Cryptojacking malware, Botnet malware. Below is an imprecise explanation of malware attacks.

types of malware attacks

Virus: A virus can replicate itself and spread into a computer system. When a site runs, the virus comes into action. Once the virus is activated, it starts to multiply and propagate the infection in the system. A virus can send off itself to additional computer systems in the same network.

Trojan: Trojan comes in the form of software updates or app updates. Once software that includes trojan inside gets updated, the trojan is also installed along with it. It can lead to other types of attacks including ransomware, spyware, Cryptojacking malware, etc.

Worm: A worm does not require any host program and human interaction or any instruction from a malware author. A worm is perilous as it can replicate, spread and multiply without any help. Once it is propagated, it is hard to stop it.

Spyware: Spyware silently works on a computer system and gathers users’ details without their understanding. The details could be passwords, PINs, payment information, or any messages. By collecting the information, cyber thieves monitor users’ behaviour and different activities.

Adware: Adware monitors users’ surfing activity and presents specific ads to the user. The details collected by adware include the user’s browsing history, search history, social interactions on different sites, shopping fondness, cart information. The information then sells to advertisers or shows targeted ads.

Ransomware: Ransomware is the most profitable technique of malware. Cybercriminals install ransomware on a user’s computer system and encode files and other data then ask for a ransom amount to unlock a user’s data and files. Cybercriminals in few cases, transfer the data to a server that they can control and use it.

Cryptojacking Malware: Cybercriminal hacks into the computer system and installs software. A software consumes the power and resources of the system to mine cryptocurrencies. It can steal cryptocurrency wallets. Cryptojacking uses a code that is hard to detect and runs in the background.

Botnet Malware: Cybercriminals use a bot to infect a group of computers and use them for a malicious flood attack. A botnet is a self-disseminated malware that connects back to the main server. Bots formed in huge numbers called a botnet. A botnet exploits the vulnerability and can spread to millions of computers. It can interrupt the supply chain, steal sensitive information, and create disruption.

How to Detect Malware?

A user can detect malware due to atypical activity like reduced disk space, slow speed of PC, repeated crashes, pop-up ads, unusual internet activity, repeated freezes. 

Antivirus can be a great help to detect such strange activities. Antivirus can routinely scan the system and alert users about suspicious activity. It can also detect and remove malware if prompted. 

How to prevent Malware Attacks?

There are many ways to prevent malware attacks from entering the system and spreading disruption. A few of them are discussed below.

Use Antivirus Software

Antivirus software scans detect and fix viruses, worms, and other types of malware that could infect the computer system. Antivirus scans each file that relates to the web world.

It is wise to update the signature of antivirus regularly as antivirus authors release frequent updates and fix patches against the latest malware and bugs in a program. The latest update ensures that a user will not distribute the malware accidentally to the website.

Use Encryption to Secure Data in Transit

To enable encryption on the website, it is necessary to go with an SSL certificate. SSL means Secure Socket Layer. SSL certificate encrypts ongoing information between the server and the browser hence, a third party can not intercept the communication occurring between two ends. 

Use Secure Authentication Methods

To secure a network, few authentication methods are necessary. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), a strong password can be considered a secure authentication method.

MFA involves two verification steps to access any application, VPN, or online account. It is a part of a strong identity and access management policy. This authentication method reduces the chance of malware attack.

Do not allow file upload on the website

A malicious actor can misuse your serve and upload a malicious script on the server. It is wise to avoid executables permissions for files, images, or any type of documents. There are huge chances of infecting the website with nasty malware. There should be another way for users on the website to share the files.

Use Form Validation

Form validation is quite necessary as it can block malicious scripts from running via form fields. Improper form validation can cause malware attack including header injection, XSS-site scripting, SQL injection.

Protect Against SQL Injection Attack

Developers or system admin can keep plugins, frameworks, libraries up to date with the latest patches. The system admin should not connect web applications to the database with admin rights. It is also sensible not to share shared database accounts among websites or apps.

Protect Against XSS Attacks

XSS attack or Cross-Site Scripting attack is a client-side code injection. An attacker carries out a malicious script in a browser with malicious code reside in a valid site or application.

The attack begins when a user visits an untrusted web page or app. To overcome this situation, you should install a firewall, sanitize input data, validate input user data.

Install Firewall

To prevent malware attacks, a Web Application Firewall (WAF) is necessary to install on the system. It is designed to safeguard web applications, mobile apps, APIs by removing HTTP traffic coming between a web application and the web.

The WAF follows the OSI model to prevent malicious traffic and thereby avert web application attacks. A firewall filters traffic related to IP and ports.

Take Backups

Admin should update WordPress plugins, theme, CMS, framework frequently. Attackers always try to find an unpatched system as it seems a soft target to enter the system. 

Logout From Website

It is sensible to log out of a site when you complete the work to avert a third party to access the system without validating credentials. You can add a session management script that will automatically log out at a certain time.

Conclusion

It is necessary to stop off malware attacks for your organizations. There is proper training required to detect and prevent malware attacks. A strong security defence and cyber awareness is a critical part of an organization. Few preventive measures as discussed above can stop potential malware attack.

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