A Beginner’s Guide to Virus, Malware, and Ransomware Attacks

3 min

We often hear and read words like ransomware and phishing attacks being discussed in online circles. Yet they can be difficult to understand and avoid for some, especially in today’s always-online culture. With most of us being online – either for work, study, or entertainment – often for hours during the course of a day, it is important to know about the dangers that lurk behind the fancy utility and the promise of the constant dopamine rush of the internet.

So, today, let’s take a few minutes to know about the most common threats of the online world. These threats don’t specifically target their victims, which is what makes them even more dangerous. They can be as random as a friend request from a high-school friend and can catch you off-guard.

Knowing what they are and taking basic but strong steps to prevent them can go a long way in ensuring a safe online environment. Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to getting started.

What is a Virus Attack?

A virus attack is an event in which a device like your smartphone or computer is infected by a virus. This virus is usually a string of code that enters your device via the internet (or flash drives and discs) and infects your system. Depending upon the type of virus, it can corrupt or destroy your data, render your system useless, or target certain crucial files and folders.

Virus attacks on personal computers and smartphones have reduced in numbers over the years but they are still prevalent among beginner users. Common actions that could lead to a virus attack are:

  • Downloading files from unknown websites/platforms
  • Clicking on unknown links in emails and on websites
  • Using surreptitious websites
  • Clicking on pop-ups
  • Accessing illegal content

The best way to prevent a virus attack is to avoid the aforementioned actions and safeguard your device with anti-virus software. If you surf the internet regularly, consider these browser best practices.

What is a Malware Attack?

A malware attack is similar to a virus attack in which malicious software or application infects a device. It is usually in the form of a utility application that infects the device without the knowledge of the user. This is because malware may work in the system background without making any changes to the user front. The user may therefore fail to notice any changes, which can lead to further damage to the device as well as the data contained in it.

For example, a keylogger – usually spread via third-party, freemium software – works in the background and can collect financial data such as credit card numbers. This data is then routed to the owner of the malware via the internet, all without the knowledge of the user.

A virus, among others like Trojan virus, spyware, rootkits, adware, and ransomware, is a type of malware. Malware is more virulent than simple viruses and can cause considerable damage if it is not quarantined on time. However, in most cases, if malware has attacked a device, the device will most likely need to be reset. This could mean a permanent loss of data such as personal photos, music, and work files.

Malware attacks can be avoided the same way as you would virus attacks. Additionally, avoid installing unknown software. If you are on mobile, use only those apps that you can download and install from the official Android and Apple app stores.

What is a Ransomware Attack?

A ransomware attack is an event in which malware randomly targets your device and temporarily locks you out of it. It then demands a ransom (usually money) from you in order to unlock it, failing which you will be permanently locked out of the device. Such attacks have grown increasingly common lately, with the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in May 2021 being a recent one in the US that cost the company millions apart from the stain in its brand reputation.

Ransomware attacks can be random or targeted. Personal users may face such attacks the same way they face usual virus attacks i.e., through reckless online actions. According to our research, accessing shady websites and downloading unknown software are two of the biggest reasons for getting infected by ransomware.

Pro Tip – Here are eight privacy resources to help you safeguard your online presence.

With some basic steps, you can easily avoid falling prey to such malware attacks. Remember to stick to known websites, applications, and URLs. If a certain file or link seems fishy, it’s most likely problematic. It is best and safe to avoid downloading or clicking on them.

If you are looking for an additional security layer, consider installing a VPN that will safeguard you from interceptors and hackers. Whenever you communicate via the internet, your data will be protected and encrypted, which will help repel such attempts. Download TuxlerVPN now.

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