“Malware” short for “malicious software”, and is any software designed to damage, steal, or hijack data. Different types of malware include trojans, ransomware, spyware, and viruses.

The Threat of Malware

Attackers use malware for a variety of malicious actions including:

  • Stealing banking information, usernames and passwords, or sensitive data
  • Locking critical files and demanding ransom to unlock them (commonly known as “ransomware”)
  • Illegitimate access to your computer (including microphone, webcam, etc...), and using it to infect other computers on the same network.

How Malware is Spread

Attackers spread malware by tricking people into installing it by downloading files or clicking links from untrusted sources - either on the web or via email. Examples include:

  • Clicking links on malicious websites, or websites that have been compromised with malware.
  • Clicking malicious links in emails sent by attackers.
  • Opening macro-enabled Microsoft Word documents (e.g. docm and xlsm extensions)

What you should do

  • Do Not Click Links or Open Any Attachments You Are Not Expecting. If you are not expecting a specific attachment, do not open it for review. Additionally, do not click links within emails if you are not expecting them. Follow up with a phone call to the sender directly, better to be safe than sorry!
  • Use Proper Email Security. Always verify that the emails you receive are from legitimate and trusted sources. Inspect the from addresses closely, and be wary of downloading any files that you’re not already expecting.
  • Use Proper Web Security. Only download files from known and trusted websites. Verify that the URL is not intentionally misspelled to confuse you into downloading malware from a malicious website.
  • Disable Office Macros. Macros in Microsoft Office are small pieces of code that run in the background - that code often downloads malware. It’s rare to see macro-enabled Office documents used in normal business (docm and xlsx files). We recommend disabling macros on all computers to prevent ransomware infection.
  • Stay Vigilant. Hackers rely on people letting their guard down, and taking action without thinking. It only takes one mistake for malware to get installed and spread through a company.

If you have any questions or need any help please reach out to us!

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