Tech Info

Malware, Ransomware, And Viruses: What’s The Difference?

Friday, May 28th, 2021
angry business man screaming at laptop

All of these pose a significant risk to your hardware, software, and business data. Viruses, ransomware, and malware affect your business in different ways. It is vital to know the differences between them. Here are some things to keep in mind about viruses and the security of your business.

What is malware?

Malware refers to all malicious types of software (including both ransomware and viruses). Other types include spyware, bots, worms, and rootkits. Each type of malware has a different purpose and some are more well-known than others. For example, many people have heard of spyware, which tracks a device’s activities, while others have likely not heard of Rootkits, which allows hackers to control a device.

Like viruses, most types of malware can spread through files, email attachments, downloaded software, and visiting websites. Fraudulent antivirus software, also known as scareware, is another way to get infected with malware. They do this by automatically notifying you that your device is infected, even though it may not be. Then, it prompts you to click a link with malware attached.

Malware can do a lot to harm you and your business. It can make your computer run slow, steal personal information, corrupt files, and even steal identities.

Xafecopy

This malware was discovered in 2017 by Kaspersky, a popular security firm. Xafecopy affected android devices and was embedded into many different apps. It would automatically click on websites that used WAP billing software and bill the Android user’s phone company. This resulted in a lot of unwanted charges on bills.

Myths about malware to remember

Most people are familiar with viruses rather than malware as a whole. That’s one reason why there are myths about malware that need to be busted including the following.

  1. Big-name websites can’t get or spread malware: Any website can get malware. In the past, Yahoo and the New York Times have fallen victim to it. It is as simple as running a malicious, third-party ad on a website. Viewers don’t have to click on anything because the ad can pass malware through a view. This is known as malvertising.
  2. You’ll know if your device has malware: Unfortunately, you won’t always know if your computer is infected. Many don’t show signs of malware or barely show them at all.
  3. Malware isn’t dangerous if you don’t store anything important: Because it isn’t made to focus on stealing files from your devices, malware is dangerous to anyone. It will spam your email contacts to spread itself and can record keystrokes to steal banking and other vital personal information.

What is a virus?

In the world of technology, a virus is a malicious section of malware code that can infect a device and move quickly to others. Viruses spread using websites and files and they can do their jobs without being detected. Depending on the type of virus your device has, it can do a few things to cause damage. This includes corrupting files, causing performance issues, and reformatting your hard drive. Viruses can even block your internet access.

So, how do you get a computer virus? It can be as simple as visiting the wrong website or opening the wrong file. They spread through shared files like pictures music, videos, and even Word documents. Some can spread themselves through a network by hijacking an email address.

The ILOVEYOU virus

This is just one example of a virus that caused millions of dollars in damage. It spread through emails simply titled “I Love You.” Not only did it cause damage to personal computers, but those in banks, security firms, and even internet companies as well. Unwitting people only had to open a text file that was disguised as a love letter. The ILOVEYOU virus spread itself by sending spam emails from a host device, corrupting files, and deleting data as it went.

Myths about viruses everyone should know

Myths can spread as easily and quickly as computer viruses! Here are some that everyone should know about viruses and their devices.

  1. You can open files from trusted sources: Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. Viruses are capable of hacking into a host device and email account, which means they can send out copies of themselves.
  2. Apple devices can’t get a virus: Just like every other connected device out there, Apple products can get sick. Coders just have to update their viruses more often to keep up.
  3. Firewalls will always protect you: This is a myth, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a firewall. It is vital to pick the best firewall for your needs.

What is ransomware?

This type of malicious code hijacks your device and locks you out until you pay the creator a ransom. This means you will not have access to whatever files you are stored on the device until you send money to the criminal. The ransom can be between hundreds and thousands of dollars and it is often difficult to get your files and programs back, even if you have paid.

Basic malware will lock your device, while the more advanced varieties will encrypt your files. The programmer will make you pay ransom for a decryption key to unlock them. Both types can spread easily through spam emails, messages, and websites. The main difference between this and other types of malware, including viruses, is that their endgame is to encrypt your files and data for money.

WannaCry

This malware was one of the worst to strike anywhere. In 2018, it affected over 200,000 devices in many sectors, including the U.S. government, law enforcement agencies, and banks. Total damages were around $8 billion, just from this attack. Past attacks also affected other countries, like the National Health Service of Britain.

Myths about ransomware to keep in mind

Whether you are an individual or a business owner, you should be aware of the dangers of malware. Here are some myths to remember.

  1. Ransomware only affects businesses: This malware can hurt anyone, not just business owners or wealthy people. This is because cybercriminals who use malware to steal money do not discriminate.
  2. Backups always bring data back: In many cases, backups can bring your data back from virus attacks. But, when it comes to malware, the story is different. This is because ransomware often attacks backups as well.
  3. If you pay, you’ll get your data back: It may seem logical that once you pay the ransom, you’ll get everything back from cybercriminals. According to purplesec.us, only 30% of businesses that pay the ransom will get their data back.

Dealing with cyber attacks

The best way to handle any kind of malware is to prevent it from affecting you in the first place. If something DOES happen, you must know how to solve the issue as well. Preparation includes protection and knowledge of how to recover from a cyber-attack or disaster.

There are a lot of options available to help protect your systems and data, including VPNs and AI security solutions. At Andrews & Associates, we understand the importance of preventing data loss. We also have the expertise and tools to help you recover data.

Call us at (806) 242-1088 to learn about our comprehensive list of Services, which are designed to offer the best in safety and efficiency. If you’re an existing client, you can Request Support from a team member as well.