If you just called a malware a “virus,” then you are definitely being left behind in digital talk. Knowing a few IT things here and there not only enables you to have some rapport with your tech-savvy colleagues, but it also helps you have a better understanding of some basic IT know-how. Read on to get you started.
For a long time, the phrase “computer virus” was misappropriated as a term to define every type of attack that intended to harm or hurt your computers and networks. A virus is actually a specific type of attack, or malware. Whereas a virus is designed to replicate itself, any software created for the purpose of destroying or unfairly accessing networks and data should be referred to as malware.
Don’t let all the other words ending in “ware” confuse you; they are all just subcategories of malware. Currently, one of the most popular of these is “ransomware,” which is malware that encrypts valuable data until a ransom is paid for its return.
There are several ways to safeguard your network from malware, but IPSs are quickly becoming one of the non-negotiables. IPSs sit inside of your company’s firewall and look for suspicious and malicious activity that can be halted before it can exploit or take advantage of a known vulnerability.
Not all types of malware rely solely on fancy computer programming. Experts agree that the majority of attacks require some form of what is called “social engineering” to be successful. Social engineering is the act of tricking people, rather than computers, into revealing sensitive or guarded information. Complicated software is totally unnecessary if you can just convince potential victims that you’re a security professional who needs their password to secure their account.
Despite often relying on face-to-face interactions, social engineering does occasionally employ more technical methods. Phishing is the act of creating an application or website that impersonates a trustworthy and often well-known business in an attempt to elicit confidential information. Just because you received an email that says it’s from the IRS doesn’t mean it should be taken at face value — always verify the source of any service requesting your sensitive data.
Antivirus software is often misunderstood as a way to comprehensively secure your computers and workstations. These applications are just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle and can only scan the drives on which they are installed for signs of well-known malware variants.
Malware is most dangerous when it has been released but not yet discovered by cybersecurity experts. When a vulnerability is found within a piece of software, vendors will release an update to amend the gap in security. However, if cyberattackers release a piece of malware that has never been seen before, and if that malware exploits one of these holes before the vulnerability is addressed, it is called a zero-day attack.
When software developers discover a security vulnerability in their programming, they usually release a small file to update and “patch” this gap. Patches are essential to keeping your network secure from the vultures lurking on the internet. By checking for and installing patches as often as possible, you keep your software protected from the latest malware.
When antivirus software, patches, and intrusion detection fail to keep your information secure, there’s only one thing that will: quarantined off-site storage. Duplicating your data offline and storing it somewhere other than your business’s workspace ensures that if there is a malware infection, you’re equipped with backups.
Encrypted connections protect you. Open Wi-Fi networks are unencrypted, which is why they’re risky. Anyone can create a fake hotspot and trick your device into joining it automatically. When you use open Wi-Fi without protection like a VPN (see tips below), anyone on that network can see the sites you visit, your log-in passwords, your financial and personal data, and more. Hackers often name their phony Wi-Fi networks after popular spots (like “Starbucks”), knowing that most devices automatically rejoin hotspots they’ve used in the past. Hackers can even redirect your unencrypted traffic, sending you to malicious sites.
Spyware is malware used by hackers to spy on you, so they can access personal information, banking account details, online activity, and anything else they may find valuable. On mobile devices, spyware can know your whereabouts, read your text messages, redirect calls, and much more.
We aren’t just creating a glossary of cybersecurity terms; every day, we’re writing a new chapter to the history of this ever-evolving industry. And no matter what you might think, we are available to impart that knowledge on anyone who comes knocking. Get in touch with us today and find out just how we can help you with your IT woes.