Exceptional slowness in your computer system, numerous unexpected pop-up windows, the Blue Screen Of Death, - do these problems sound familiar? Do not simply brush off these problems as normal computer behaviours. Your computer system may have been infected with malware.
Malware → Undesired Software
Malware, short for malicious software, consists of programming (code, scripts, active content, and other software) that is designed to disrupt or deny operation, gather information that leads to loss of privacy or exploitation, or gain unauthorised access to system resources. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, dishonest adware and other malicious and unwanted software or programme.
Malware can spread through popular communication tools such as email and instant messages, websites and peer-to-peer platforms (where multiple computers are connected together in a network and resources are shared). Malware can also exploit software and operating system vulnerabilities to gain unauthorised access to systems. In a recent incident, a type of malware called Mirai reportedly infected traffic cameras, which turned them into zombie machines that overwhelmed United States-based domain name system provider, Dyn, in a Distributed Denial of Service attack. It resulted in a massive Internet outage on the east coast of the US, cutting off access to many popular websites including the New York Times website and music streaming service Spotify.
Do you know the different types of malware?
- I am made up of many thousands of remotely controlled computers.
- I may arrive as a seemingly harmless game and perform a malicious action. Sadly, I cannot replicate myself.
- I am a self-contained programme that can spread copies of myself to other computer systems through network connections, email attachments, instant messages and blocking you from accessing certain websites.
- I am a programme that can copy myself and spread quickly, taking up storage space and memory in your computer, slowing down your computer.
- I entice you as freeware and once installed on your computer, monitor, track and report your electronic movements to my author.
- I am a piece of software that delivers advertisements (such as pop-ups or links) to you without your permission.
Check your answers at the end of the article.
Tell-tale signs of infections
- Computer system suddenly runs at an exceptionally slow speed.
- Unexpected connections by your computer to the Internet.
- Unexpected pop-up windows.
- Unexpected fast consumption disk space.
- Keep your browser and operating system updated with the latest software patches.
- Do not allow the download and installation of dynamic or interactive content (Active Content) from unknown websites.
- Do not click on links in emails, instant messages or notifications that you receive in a social networking site unless you can verify its authenticity.
- When unsure about the authenticity (content, attachments, links), always check with the sender even when it appears to be from someone you know.
Who can help me?
Use an updated antivirus software to run a full system scan on your computer when you suspect it has been infected with malicious software.
If your computer has been hacked or infected, you should contact SingCERT to report the incident and for further advice on what to do.
SingCERT contact details
Hotline: +65 6323 5052
Internet Safety for Kids & Families - The Basics of Web Threats - http://www.trendmicro.com/cloud-content/us/pdfs/home/brochures/br_webthreats_safety.pdf