Malware Madness: Combatting the Chaos

By Brittany Demendi / Adlumin, Inc.
Mar 3, 2022

It’s that time of year again when millions of people dedicate valuable time, effort, and money crafting the perfect bracket for March Madness. Even with slim chances of winning, followers still spend hours researching teams and submitting their brackets online. However, many do not know that they are perfect targets for cybercriminals.

There are increases in phishing emails, sites, and messages during March Madness, all designed to fool people into submitting teams last minute, leaving them with busted brackets or empty bank accounts. These emails and messages are vehicles used for malware. While there may not be a high chance of winning with a perfect bracket, there is a high probability of being attacked by some type of malware.

According to Comparitech, 74% of organizations experienced a malware attack last year, and it may be the biggest threat to you and your organization because it exploits weaknesses within your IT landscape. Let’s talk about what malware is, the common types, and how to combat it.

What is Malware?

Malware, or “malicious software,” is a worldwide issue that is continuously evolving. It is also an umbrella term describing viruses, ransomware, worms, and any other type of software, file, or code made to destroy. Cybercriminals use malware to intentionally wreak-havoc to harm a computer, network, or server. In 2020, over 268,000 “never-before-seen” variants were detected, adding to the existing amount.

Common Types of Malware:

  • Virus
    • A computer virus is a “malicious code that replicates by copying itself to another program, computer boot sector, or document and changes how a computer works,” TechTarget Network It can spread innocently when an employee opens an infected email attachment file or visits a malicious website.
  • Worm
    • Worm malware is a program spread through software vulnerabilities that copies itself from computer to computer. Much like viruses, worms can infect your computer from spam emails or messages. Most firewalls or default security settings can block worms.
  • Trojans
    • Trojan malware is mainly used as a vehicle for hackers to let other malware into a network. They are much different from other types of malware because they are hidden and disguise themselves as legitimate programs to download. They survive by going unnoticed while slowly collecting private or sensitive information over time. It is essential to ensure that what you are downloading is legitimate—always double-check.
  • Spyware
    • Spyware is exactly how it sounds. It is malware that infects your computer and silently collects data from you, including what you download, usernames and passwords, credit/debit card information, etc. There are countless ways spyware can infect your security system, making it difficult to eliminate. The main issue is that this malware tends to go undetected, leaving you vulnerable.
  • Ransomware
    • As we have explored previously, ransomware takes the cake as one of the fastest-growing types of malware. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) describes ransomware as “a form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.” If a ransom is not paid, cybercriminals threaten to expose sensitive information or sell data.

Combatting the Madness of Malware

With the percentage of malware attacks being so high, it is imperative to arm your network with the right security solution. Malware can only be removed if it can be appropriately identified. The reassuring truth is that there are preventative tools and services that secure your IT landscape and cyber awareness best practices to implement within your business. Antivirus programs are not enough to protect your business when consistent monitoring is essential. Consequently, it is crucial to educate your organization on security services platforms that only take 90 minutes to deploy and can help you protect against the madness.