You live and die by your devices. Even if your computer is slow to boot up, you can probably feel yourself growing anxious and angry at your tech. Unexpected downtime resulting from improperly functioning technology is a primary source of lost productivity. It doesn’t matter whether you are using your device for critical work activities or off-time play; you deserve to be using a device that won’t let you down.
However, to give your device the best opportunity to perform well, you need to be diligent about protecting it from malware. These days, cybercriminals are eager to infiltrate your devices every which way, and you must be careful to cover all possible means of intrusion. It should go without saying that you need to install solutions that ensure maximum security, but to guarantee that your computer is fully safe, you also need to know how malware might breach your defenses and attack your precious device. To that end, here are some of the old and new ways malware is accessing devices.
The New Ways
Because cybersecurity is accelerating, cybercriminals must adapt with more effective attacks that perpetuate the profitability of cybercrime. Some of these include:
Vulnerabilities. Like a hole in your software, a vulnerability is a mistake in the code that can allow outside access to your device. For example, in 2017, experts identified a vulnerability that allowed anyone with physical access to a Mac computer to establish admin control without entering a password, confirming identity, or performing any security measures whatsoever.
Corrupted hardware. One of the most recently detected attack vectors, corrupt hardware can prompt devices to download corrupt drivers which install all sorts of dangerous malware on your device. The Slingshot attacks are an excellent example of this; it used compromised routers to spread malware slowly and silently for more than six years.
Concentrated attacks. Cybercriminals can amass armies of machines, called botnets, to launch enormously powerful attacks that burst through otherwise solid defenses. The concentrated efforts of hundreds of devices can disrupt users’ service, steal information, and more. Though consumers are rarely attacked with this method — because it is time consuming and individual consumers can hardly supply enough data to make it worthwhile — it is important to know about DDoS and similar attacks.
Unfortunately, many new attack vectors are all but impossible for consumers to prevent; it is largely the responsibility of hardware and software developers to recognize the flaws in their tech and enhance security before their products reach the market. Yet, the extreme competition currently at play in the market is forcing through half-baked security measures that only assist the bad guys. In addition to learning more about malware, consumers should support developers that make the security of their products a top priority.
The Old Ways
The old ways of infection haven’t disappeared. Though a small sect of cybercriminals continue to develop cutting-edge methods of slipping through firewalls and around antivirus programs, the vast majority of digital attacks still use old, familiar methods. Fortunately, you can stand secure against nearly all of these outdated methods with antimalware solutions that ensure maximum security.
Infected drives. This is the oldest attack vector in the books; in fact, the very first computer viruses were spread on floppy disks. Today, you should be wary of connecting foreign drives to your device as they might contain malware.
Spam emails. A cheap and easy method of attack, spam emails try to convince users to click malicious links and download corrupt files. You should know the signs of untrustworthy emails: typos, promises of money, requests for personal information, and unfamiliar attachments. The best reaction to a potential spam email is ignoring it; interacting with it in any way, even opening it, might trigger infection.
Contaminated software. Sometimes, software is bundled with dangerous files, and installing that software contaminates your device. It is imperative that you only acquire software through trustworthy sources and not peer-to-peer sharing networks or third-party websites.
Compromised websites. Malware can infect websites just as it can infect devices. When a webpage is compromised, it does everything it can to spread copies of itself to visitors and collect visitor data. Internet security tools should prevent you from navigating to dubious websites, but if you find yourself on a compromised page, you should avoid clicking anything and try to shut down your browser as quickly as possible.