Are computers and smartphones adequately protected against malware and data theft? What should you watch out for with antivirus programs? And what to do if you’ve been hacked?
The world is becoming increasingly digital and networked, but cybercrime is also increasing with it.
Malicious Software: Computer Viruses, Computer Worm, Trojan Horse
A computer virus infects a program much like a virus infects cells in the body. It does what it was programmed to do: the computer won’t start, and it’s no longer possible to change or save files or browser windows open on their own.
Worms spread independently using a wide variety of methods. For example, such a worm can exploit an email program and send itself to all addresses in the address book.
Trojans look harmless at first and hide in a Word file, for example. If the file is opened, the Trojan can download other malicious programs online.
What Can Malware Do?
If malicious programs have gotten into the computer system, they can spy out personal data and passwords there, for example.
Some programs can also intercept and manipulate data traffic in online banking – those affected usually don’t notice anything at first.
Adware ensures that the user is constantly shown pop-up windows with advertisements. Such programs usually come as unwanted appendages of free downloads. They’re harmless but annoying.
And then there is the ransomware or ransomware.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious programs that restrict or prevent victims from accessing data and systems, for example, by encrypting all hard drives.
The attackers then demand a ransom for the decryption. The related malware is usually sent in an email attachment with a false sender name.
Effective Protection Against Hacker Attacks: Antivirus Programs
Antivirus programs work like a protective vaccine for the computer. They search incoming emails, network, and data traffic, or the security of websites. If the software detects malware, it simultaneously warns and cleans it up.
How Good Is Windows Defender?
The “Windows Defender” program pre-installed on Windows computers is sufficient for users with a healthy basic knowledge of security in the network and offers good protection. An additional external virus protection program may be advisable for people who don’t know and tend to fall victim to hacker attacks more easily.
Apple Users Largely Safe From Malware
Since Windows machines are much more widespread than Apple products, they are much more profitable for cybercriminals to attack. Therefore, Apple users do not need any extra virus protection – according to our expert, the one already built into the system is completely sufficient. Smartphones do not need extra virus protection either – malware on Android devices can only get into the smartphone system via an app download. As long as you obtain your apps from the official app stores of the respective providers, they are also checked for viruses and are, therefore, safe. Apple only allows downloads from the App Store anyway.
Always Make Updates!
To keep computer programs and operating systems as safe as possible, you should update the applications regularly – especially the antivirus program. The purpose of such updates is often to close security gaps. It is best to activate the updates-automatic-installation function, which many programs now have.
In The Case Of Suspicious Emails, Check With The Alleged Sender.
Emails are often the gateways for malware of all kinds. The following applies here: If you are unsure that the email is trustworthy, never click on any links or attachments it contains! Opening an email, on the other hand, does not pose any danger.
Hackers mostly work with the motives of fear and curiosity. For example, you pretend to represent your bank and warn that your account has been blocked. Or they offer cute or explosive photos, often disguised as someone you presume to know. The criminals are very skillful and often fool people who should know better.
Therefore, ask the sender if anything about an email strikes you as odd. Do not choose any telephone numbers in the email – these can also be fake – but look for the contact details yourself.
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Malware On The Computer – What Can I Do?
If your computer is infected with malware, the operating system must be reinstalled. If your data was encrypted by ransomware, keep it – if you’re lucky, it can still be decrypted. Here are tips from the consumer advice center if you notice a computer virus.
In any case, you should save your data on an external data carrier regularly. If such a backup exists, it makes restoring your computer much easier.