You can be a freelancer with various tasks or an aspiring entrepreneur focused on one larger project; you got it all organized and working like a clock. However, there is still something missing if you hadn’t thought about it earlier when you only bought a new laptop or Mac. We are discussing an antivirus, the essential must-have for any Internet user, freelancer, or entrepreneur (especially a big company).
But what you should know about an antivirus if you are a newbie or far from IT or cybersecurity topics? Let’s say you are reading a Vipre antivirus review, but what does it tell you? Of course, when you search for the best antivirus solution, reviews, and other resources are more than helpful, but what is the big bad wolf from which they are shielding you and why you should care? There are multiple antiviruses like webroot secureanywhere antivirus which offers a great list of features.
- A Very Brief History of Malware
- What is Malware?
- How to Tell If Your Computer Is Infected?
- How to Avoid Malware Infection?
A Very Brief History of Malware
It is safe to say that the first virus was created from mere interest as an experiment, the self-replicating program released in 1971 by Bob Thomas from BBN Technologies. The irony is, it was never intended to cause harm but to be a mobile application. Creeper, named after a cartoon character in a show Scooby-Doo, filled the hard drive until a computer could not operate and shut itself down.
It wasn’t a classic virus as we imagine it now; if being precise, it was a worm type malware. All Creeper did was display mysterious messages and made it challenging for computers to process multiplied data. Still, it is considered to be a prototype for further malware.
However, Creeper wasn’t released to harm networks or individual users, unlike Elk Cloner’s virus that infected the boot sector of some computers and caused the overheat. At the same time, MS-DOS Brain made by brothers from Pakistan was originally designed as copy protection. As a result, it overwrote the boot sector on the floppy disk and prevented the computer from booting.
Other significant examples of viruses and malware can be seen in the 1991 Michelangelo virus discovered in Australia, which prevented computers from booting, 1999 Melissa, Word Macro virus distributed by email, and caused email servers to crash.
Things may start as an attempt to create something useful, but once it is taken in the wrong hands, it results in ransomware, adware, and other unwanted malware that roams the Internet nowadays. Currently, all types of cybercriminals exploit one’s system vulnerabilities to obtain information and disrupt networks. Either it is computer vandalism, petty theft, serious cybercrime, or “grey market” business, you should be alert and ready to fight back.
It is hard to predict the precise path that malware development will take. It is also ambiguous to tell what method and malware will dominate the landscape in the next year. The major problem with current malware is its constant code change and sophistication, where AV developers have to think several steps ahead.
What is Malware?
After a small introduction to the first samples of viruses (or rather worms, as Creeper was a worm program), it is time to define malware. Malware is malicious software designed to capture the data, destroy, or disrupt the system. Malware is often spread via an unsecured Internet connection, USB-carriers, or even without one’s awareness, by drive-by downloads. Another type of malware is phishing attacks, spread by emails, and implemented in fake websites.
Often unprotected networks result in data breaches and keyboard or webcam capturing, resulting in blackmailing or stealing user data. Malware includes the following types:
- Virus – the most common type of malware, it infects other files and programs and disables the system to work properly.
- Worm – a self-replicating program that doesn’t follow any distinctive path other than overwhelming the system and leaving no free space at drive.
- Trojan horse – disguised as a legitimate program and installed, gives criminals access to delete, block, modify, or copy your data or disrupt the performance of computers and networks.
- Adware – malware that tracks your browser and download history and then attacks you with pop-ups and unwanted advertisement.
- Spyware – malware designed to collect your data and track your online activity.
- Ransomware – aggressive malware that captures your system and encrypts data, while criminals demand a ransom payment for giving you back control over your computer. Usually, even if you pay the ransom, no one can ensure that your data will be given back.
- Rootkits – a program that can obtain administrator-level access to your system and then modify it.
- Keyloggers – monitors that capture your activity by gaining access to email, web-pages, programs, and keystrokes.
At the same time, it is important to protect all your devices, as hackers don’t care where they target you, but what they get from it. It is debatable whether macOS and iOS devices are better protected by default, but you can find protection for your convenience system and platform.
How to Tell If Your Computer Is Infected?
One of the most obvious signs that your computer has malware is a decrease in CPU, storage space, and system or program crashes. It reminds of supernatural possession when your computer acts weird without you knowing it.
Another concerning sign is unauthorized logs in your accounts, expenses from the credit cards you don’t remember, and any other sign that your credentials were stolen. Of course, no one remembers the precise time when they logged in their Instagram account, yet if you receive notifications, it is clear that it wasn’t a mistake, but hackers gaining access to your accounts.
If you notice anything suspicious, don’t wait and check your system for malware, block your accounts (or log out from all devices), and freeze your credit cards.
How to Avoid Malware Infection?
First and foremost, your attentiveness is your best friend in protecting your data. Never open emails from unknown senders, always check the authenticity and security of the website, and never participate in shady giveaways that involve “clicking a link,” for starters.
Secondly, always buy or download programs from legit websites and distributors. If something goes wrong, you know whom to address, rather than going back to strange websites that offer “free” programs and quick downloads.
Thirdly, always secure your WiFi network and never connect to public WiFi without a VPN or firewall. Almost half of the attacks happen when you use WiFi and exchange some data.
Of course, criminals always come up with new ways of tricking you into giving them your credentials and creating pathways for infecting the computer. That’s why antivirus is a perfect shield that saves you from unpleasant consequences. Real-time protection and regular scans can detect the hidden threats and prevent them from spreading in your system or transfer to others.
So, Antivirus Is a “Yes”?
The short answer is “Yes, yes, yes,” the longer one is AV-solution is an important contribution to your online and offline security. Surely, there is not one brand or one specific program that is perfect for anyone, but the variety of products that are helpful in terms of features coverage and price ranges. It is up to you, what product you pick for your laptop or PC.
Take your time and investigate the market, read reviews, ask for a professional opinion of technicians regarding your hardware and its compatibility with the software of your choice. It is better to double-check all options than giving hackers a chance to attack your data. Remember that it is better late than never to choose appropriate software.
Keep calm, stay safe, and have a productive day!