Understanding Malware: How to Prevent, Detect, and Remove it?

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With 350,000 new malware and potentially unwanted apps discovered every day by AV-TEST Institute (a premier institution working on digital security), it’s more important than ever to secure your digital products and services.

If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles,” said Sun Tzu — a military general and philosopher. He suggests you must know your enemy to defeat it. Don’t you agree with Sun Tzu?

If yes, you must understand malware to better defend against it, right? So, let’s learn about malware, including malware detection and malware removal tips.

What is Malware?

The word “malware” is derived from two words: “malicious” and “software”, i.e., a piece of software that’s intentionally developed for malicious purposes. Malware can come at different forms and types that damage a computer, network, or server, steal data, or cause other issues.

Understand Malware - Prevent, Detect, and Remove

Malware is mostly created by a group of hackers — a self-operating group trying to make profits or a corporation-backed or government-backed group working with the goal of disrupting the work of other organizations or governments.

The prior one usually creates malware for selling it to the highest bidder or spreading it to make money or raise their voice. For example, a hacker group is known by the name Shadow Brokers” released a critical malware created by the US National Security Agency as a protest about US President Donald Trump.

The later one mostly creates malware to test their or their clients’ security. However, they can also work on malware to cause serious damage to other corporations or governments. For instance, US Cyber Command released some samples of Electric Fish, which is linked to hackers backed by North Korea.

Who should you fear? Any malware is dangerous — be it created by a group of individual hackers or state-backed hackers. It will always try to shut down your computer systems, spread itself to your digital friends, or steal your data.

How to Prevent Malware?

Malware attacks would not work without the most important ingredient: you,writes MalwareBytes — a renowned anti-malware solution provider. That means an attacker can’t infect your device without your help. If you’re smart enough to take the following necessary precautions, you can avoid getting infected.

  1. Install security solutions – You must get some antivirus and anti-malware solutions installed on your system that features real-time scanning.
  2. Update your software regularly – You should update the operating system and installed apps to protect yourself from newly discovered bugs.
  3. Secure your personal networks – You must secure your LAN or Wi-Fi network at home or work using industry practices such as WPA2.
  4. Avoid suspicious links and sites – You should avoid clicking any link or website on the Internet — especially the ones received in an email.
  5. Avoid sharing your personal data – You must prohibit sharing personal info openly to the public, say on social networks. It may give enough info to attackers to crack one of your accounts via social engineering.
  6. Don’t use open Wi-Fi or use VPN – You should avoid an open Wi-Fi (which isn’t encrypted and protected by a password) since it’s mostly targeted by attackers. But if you do, you must get behind a proxy or a VPN.
  7. Use multiple strong passwords – You must avoid repeating your password for every website or service and should strengthen it as well.
  8. Avoid pirated and suspicious sites – You should avoid compromised, pirated, or suspicious sites since they may expose you to malware. You can opt for a website reputation tool to avoid compromised sites.
  9. Use a non-administrator account – You must opt for a non-admin and non-root account for your daily tasks to limit privileges to apps. It helps to prevent malware from causing any major damage to your system.

How to Detect and Remove Malware?

It’s not straightforward to detect or remove malware, so there are specialized tools that help to detect and remove malware. However; first and foremost, let’s discuss the commonly visible symptoms that indicate that your computer or mobile device is infected by malware. You must check for all of these:

  1. Is your computer running slower than before?
  2. Are you getting annoying ads (not in a web browser)?
  3. Does your system repeatedly crash, freeze, or restart?
  4. Has your device lost extra space without your knowing?
  5. Is your computer using more than the usual bandwidth?
  6. Is your device using more than normal resources?
  7. Has your browser’s homepage or settings changed?
  8. Has your browser got new extensions or toolbars?
  9. Has your antivirus tool stopped updating or working?
  10. Is there a ransom message present on your display?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then your device may have got malware infection, but you must confirm it using an anti-malware tool. That said, it’s not a guaranteed method for detecting malware, but you should always look out for these symptoms — it helps to detect malware early.

The easiest method to detect and remove malware is by using an anti-malware product that features real-time scanning and auto definition updates. Why? It’s a tiresome job to look for each file in your system without such a solution.

Then, you can also upload suspicious files or all executables to a web security solution like VirusTotal. However, it’s not a quick and easy method, unlike the above option. Also, it will only help you detect malware but not remove it.

That said, let’s discuss the best anti-malware solutions that are certified as the top products by AV-TEST — a leading security-focused research institute.

Avast Free AntiVirus

Avast is a popular antivirus solution that protects your device from zero-day as well as widespread malware infections with success rates of 97 percent and 100 percent, per AV-TEST. It’s a superb tool with an intuitive interface and numerous features to protect you against a wide array of web attacks, including malware.

AVG Internet Security

AVG is a reputed security product that protects you with a success rate of 97 percent for zero-day malware infections and 100 percent for prevalent malware, like Avast. It’s another intuitive and usable solution that offers many features in a neat package to help you fight against modern-day attacks such as malware.

Bitdefender Internet Security

Bitdefender is another well-known security solution that offers a success rate of 98.8 percent against zero-day malware infections and 100% against known malware — better than the above two solutions. Then, it also offers a beautiful interface along with a set of useful features to protect you against malware.

That’s all about malware, including the tips and tools to prevent, detect, and remove it. Did you find it useful? Write a comment for posting your feedback.

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