A Crash Course In Web Security – Your Cheat Sheet For Detecting Malware

What is Malware And How Does It Spread?

First, malware may spread through infected links in emails, messengers, or websites. Strange domain names, too-good-to-be-true ads, shortened URLs, or links with no additional text are all big red flags. Second, at times it will lurk in attachments. To stay safe, never run unknown executable files, and check new DOCX PDF documents with antivirus software before opening them. And finally, malware can travel from one computer to another via USB flash drives and memory cards (you guessed right, scan ’em with an antivirus first).

How to Tell if Your Device is Infected?

There are a few tell-tale signs to a malware infection.

  • Is it oddly slow, drains the battery fast, overheats, or uses more bandwidth than usual? Some pieces of malware may ‘borrow’ your computing power to perform network attacks, send out spam, or mine cryptocurrencies.
  • Adware is more of an annoyance than a threat, though sometimes it does come in a bundle with other types of malware. All the weird popups that appear even when your browser is closed will fall into this category.
  • Ransomware doesn’t need too much of an introduction: a large notice asking for ransom in exchange for normal access to your files/browser/system is, sadly, hard to miss.
  • Some types of malware, like spyware that spies on you through your camera or harvests data/passwords by recording which keys you are pressing, are more sneaky. So lookout for any strange signs like sudden crashes of software/OS, camera switching on when you didn’t ask it to, or weird apps you’ve never installed, and keep your antivirus running and updated.

How to Cure an Infected Device

If you think or know there’s malware present, here’s the action list:

  • Disconnect your device, restart it, and enter the ‘safe mode’ (if available).
  • Clean up temporary files.
  • Run a full antivirus scan or a virus removal tool.
  • Restart your computer again.
  • Change your passwords if you want to play it safe (this is advisable).
  • Check and install updates for your apps, browser, and operating system.
  • Run the full scan once again to ensure the above steps have remedied the situation.

Keep calm and stay secure!

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