What is Malware?
Malware, short for malicious software, poses a significant threat by inflicting harm in various ways when allowed to run. This includes:
Malware can make your computer or other devices stop working properly. It might slow down your system, cause it to freeze, or even make it completely unusable.
Data Theft or Deletion:
Malicious software is capable of stealing your personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or sensitive documents. In some cases, it may delete or damage your important files.
Malware can sometimes aim to capture your login credentials, providing unauthorized access to your accounts, emails, or other online services.
Some malware can take control of your computer without your knowledge. This means someone else could remotely access and control your device, potentially using it for malicious purposes.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents you from accessing your computer (or the data that is stored on it). The computer itself may become locked, or the data on it might be stolen, deleted, or encrypted. Some ransomwares will also try to spread to other machines on the network, such as the WannaCry malware that impacted the NHS in May 2017.
Usually, you’re asked to contact the attacker via an anonymous email address or follow instructions on an anonymous web page, to make payment. The payment is invariably demanded in a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, to unlock your computer, or access your data. However, even if you pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that you will get access to your computer, or your files. Occasionally malware is presented as ransomware, but after the ransom is paid the files are not decrypted. This is known as wiper malware. For these reasons, it’s essential that you always have a recent offline backup of your most important files and data.
Did you know?
- Four in ten businesses (39%) and a quarter of charities (26%) report having cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months.
- Among the 39 per cent of businesses and 26 per cent of charities that identify breaches or attacks, one in five (21% and 18% respectively) end up losing money, data or other assets.
- Among those that have identified breaches or attacks, around a quarter (27% of these businesses and 23% of these charities) experience them at least once a week.
- The average cost of all the cyber security breaches these businesses have experienced in the past 12 months is estimated to be £8,460. For medium and large firms combined, this average cost is higher, at £13,400