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Cybersafe August 06, 2020

Malware 101

MALWARE is the umbrella term used for any harmful, malicious software or program on any device. Most likely these are installed without the user’s consent – such as when users click on infected links disguised to look legitimate (or phishing), or even when copying files on a USB. 


Some malware may also come bundled together with software packages. The malware is hidden among many files (which is partially the reason why malware is difficult to remove), and the malware acts up once the program is installed. Unpleasant malware effects often include unwanted ad displays (even when the browser isn’t open), crippled computer performance, browser crashes and unexpected Internet disconnections. 


Malware also tends to mine or even erase personal data, and may affect the computer’s hardware. Types of malware include: 


  1. Computer viruses – As their name suggests, computer viruses act much like the viruses we deal with biologically. They spread and infect multiple files through transfers, usually through emails or physical media, like USB drives.


  1. Spyware – This type of malware spies on you through your computer activity (like keystrokes, browsing histories, logins), tracking your information in order to send to cybercriminals. 


  1. Adware – Though relatively harmless compared to the others on this list, adware is usually responsible for unwanted pop-up ads. However, some adware mine your data and browser history in order to deliver targeted ads, while some adware has been found to disable antivirus programs. 


  1. Ransomware – Ransomware infects a user’s files and encrypts them so they are no longer readable by the user. The creators of the malware then demand a ransom to de-encrypt the files. Should a user fail to pay up, the files will be deleted. 


  1. Trojan Horse – Often masquerading as legitimate files, Trojan Horses, once downloaded, make changes and do malicious activities on a victim’s computer – without the victim’s consent or knowledge, which creates a lot of damage that is not easily recoverable. 


This article is part of the Banker’s Association of the Philippines’ (BAP) #CyberSafe campaign, where the BAP aims to promote awareness in cybersecurity. The campaign will upload new posts tackling common web security questions and issues on Wednesdays and Sundays every week. 


For more information about phishing and malware, please visit these links: Phishing 101 and Malware 101.