With the ever-growing number of incidents, data breaches, malware attacks, ransom paid, and risks to
data in the cyberspace, the need for security awareness to fight cybercrime is more important than
ever. To kick off this year’s cybersecurity awareness month, we will be talking about those easily
overlooked signs that shows that an unwanted party has gained access into our devices.
Imagine it’s a busy Saturday as usual, you just finished your chores/errands and finally, you decided you
deserve a little screen time, just minutes into surfing your favorite news site, you suddenly get a pop-up
ad on some bogus offer that seem too good to ignore, you click on the ad and then you’re redirected to
a site with a completely different content, sounds familiar right? Sites like these are usually infected, any
slight interaction can introduce unwanted things into our device.
Hackers persistently find various new tactics to breach our defenses using sophisticated tools to execute
their malicious activities. The most common method they use is by launching a malware attack.
To understand what a malware attack is we first need to get familiar with what a malware is. Malware
simply means a malicious software which has been programmed by hackers to mutilate a system or
network and/or to steal data remotely.
There are various malicious software with different functions, some examples are:
1. Adware: This type of malware uses records of activities to automatically send unwanted user-specific
advertisements to a system. Although some of these variants of malware can be harmless, others can be
programmed to direct a user to harmful websites via advertised links that can infect the system with
viruses. Adware can be identified by sudden adverts on a system or browser that were not displayed in
2. Virus: Perhaps the most popular one of all is a computer virus. This is a malicious code that attaches
itself to a host (host here can be a document, file, application or program) and can multiply itself to
spread to other programs it encounters. A virus cannot spread by itself, an action from a user is needed
for it to perform its malicious functions.
3. Worm: Unlike a virus that needs to attach itself to a host to function, worms are more independent,
they do not require any action from a user before they spread from one system program to another,
once a worm meets a system or network, it rapidly infects and destroys data as it travels. Worms are
notorious for spreading ransomware attacks and creating backdoors into a system.
4. Ransomware: This type of malware encrypts any data it encounters with a unique code rendering the
data useless and inaccessible. A ransomware attack usually comes with a .txt file containing instructions
demanding funds be paid in exchange for a decrypt key to unlock the system or network’s data. It can be
executed by clicking an infected download link.
5. Backdoor: This type of malware uses unique measures to bypass every authentication procedure of a
system to gain access to it by creating a route for attackers to operate and send out commands on the
system remotely without the user suspecting their operations. A backdoor can be in form of a Trojan,
which is a malicious file disguising to be a legitimate file, as soon as authorization is given to run the file
as an administrator on the system, it opens an access way for an attacker to infiltrate the system.
Another example of a Backdoor is a Rootkit, this variant can gain access to the operating system of a
device and conceal itself deeply into the system. An anti-malware scanner can bypass a rootkit because
of its advantageous privileges, leading the scanner to think the rootkit is part of the system.
6. Spyware: Is a mole that secretly logs all activities of a device and sends its findings to a remote
attacker. Spyware can record keystrokes (called keyloggers) of a system thereby getting sensitive
information like passwords to financial platforms without the user being aware of such activities.
These things may go unnoticed to an uninformed individual, so how do you spot an infected device?
Stay tuned for the next article to find out those little giveaways that tells us our devices has been