WHAT IS MALWARE?
Malware is malicious software designed to compromise a device on which it is installed.
Malware often masquerades as useful or at least benign software or can be hidden in documents and files. Malware can mean a virus, worm, spyware, adware, ransomware or similar. If the software is installed or the document opened, it can lead to to all kinds of unpleasant outcomes such as:
- Personal data theft and fraud
- Compromised connected devices
- Compromised passwords
- Data loss
- Financial loss
A virus is malicious software or code found in compromised software, documents or files. Viruses lay dormant and, once activated (when software is installed or run, the document or file is opened) can disrupt a device’s operation causing slowdown, data compromise and data loss.
Worms concern themselves with replicating as fast and as far as possible. Where a virus needs a host file to propagate, a worm can infect a device via a downloaded file or via the network connection itself. Worms can disrupt the operation of a device or network in much the same way as a virus and can also cause device slowdown, data compromise and data loss.
Spyware is malicious software that eavesdrops on a user’s actions then records and shares the results of its spying to a server or user. Spyware can incorporate “keylogging” — recording every keyboard input — to gain access to sensitive information including usernames and passwords.
Adware collects usage information on you and your browsing history in order to present highly targeted advertisements. When adware crosses the line between creepy and malicious is when it redirects users to unsafe sites, which can contain Trojan horses, spyware and other malware.
A Trojan horse is so named because it arrives looking like a gift but in fact contains a malicious software payload. Paid software that is offered for “free,” benign-seeming software, browser extensions and smartphone apps can instead be a Trojan horse, carrying viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware or other malicious software.
Ransomware allows “hackers” to hold your data for ransom. Once ransomware is installed, it can encrypt or otherwise threaten a device and the data it contains. This data can then be held for ransom with a threat of exposure or deletion unless a ransom is paid.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE A VICTIM OF MALWARE
If you've installed malware, take immediate action:
- Note the domain where you found the malware.
- If you’re using a work device, tell your IT team immediately
- Use a reputable malware removal tool to check for and remove malware.
- Where possible, disconnect the device you suspect has been infected (unplug network cable, turn off Wi-Fi/mobile connection)
- Create a NetBeacon report to provide the information a registrar, host or other industry partner needs to take action against the malware host site.
HOW TO REPORT ONLINE ABUSE
If you suspect or have witnessed online abuse, sharing a NetBeacon report is the single most impactful action you can take. A NetBeacon report ensures that the information gets into the right hands.
Sign up or login to the NetBeacon abuse reporting tool with your email or SSO.
Identify the type of abuse and share any details that might help investigators.
Your report will be reviewed and shared with the appropriate bodies for action.