If you’ve been a newsletter subscriber of mine, you know I’m often warning you against the latest malware and other cyberattacks. What do these words all mean?
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Know your enemy
I’m going to break down what malware and ransomware are, explain what a Trojan is, and even show you how to prevent any of these scary online risks yourself. When you know these quick threat basics, you’ll be better able to defend against them.
What is malware?
Malware is an abbreviation for malicious software, which refers to software developed with malicious intent.
Whether it’s coding that can force a virus to download or an attachment within an email that lets hackers take over your device, malware ranges from a number of different attacks.
There are also different types of malware, some of which cause even more significant concern.
What is ransomware?
It sounds similar to malware – ransomware is a specific type of malware that involves just like the name suggests – a ransom.
Hackers will use malware to gain access to either your device or some of your specific personal information, and then they’ll request a ransom – meaning they will make you pay – for your information/files to be returned to you or deleted.
Ransomware ranges from minor attacks, when hackers don’t damage anything on your device, to major attacks when you can no longer access anything at all. Once you’ve given over the money, there is no guarantee that they will return things the way they were before you were attacked. In some cases, they may come back again asking for more money on a second ransomware scam.
What is a Trojan?
A Trojan is sometimes confused for a virus, but it’s actually a type of malware. That’s because viruses are sometimes created, and then they can replicate themselves or cause harm without anyone on either end. Trojan malware is always being controlled by only a hacker.
Trojans are a kind of malware that looks like a real file or application. Instead, they’ll be a disguise for something evil that can be spread to your files and install malware on your device.
Often Trojans come as email attachments and will look like a legitimate file and be invisible to the naked eye. As soon as you download a dangerous Trojan threat, it’s game over.
How to defend yourself against malware
1. Never open an email, attachment, or link from anyone you don’t know
Always double-check who sent you an email or text message before clicking a link. Sometimes you’ll see an email that looks like it came from a friend, but upon closer inspection, you’ll realize the sender’s email address isn’t anyone you know at all.
2. Invest in a worthy antivirus protection solution for all of your devices
Good antivirus protection will alert you and prevent you from clicking any strange links that could bring you harm. That way your accounts, email and data are safe even before you get a chance to get hacked.
3. Secure your email
If you’re worried about your email and hackers potentially accessing your private information, it may be time to switch to a private and secure email server. I just rated my top private email providers, so you can eliminate the possibility of clicking sketchy links. Just search for “top private email provider” at CyberGuy.com to see the reviews.
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