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How to protect your device from malware

A report released two years ago by Norton estimated cybercrime cost the business world $110 billion in 2012. Cybercrime has been on the rise in tandem with increasing number of consumer mobile devices and higher use of the cloud.

The most common security breaches include point of sales intrusions, web app attacks, cyber espionage, insider misuse, card skimmers, DoS attacks and crimeware, according to a Verizon 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report

But device and data protection is first and foremost the responsibility of the user. Martin Karanja, Business Development Manager, Symantec East and French Speaking Africa, says users are accomplices in the spread of malware by not having active security software installed in computers and mobile devices.

“The consumer’s computing environment is continuing to grow and evolve. They will continue to be faced with increased risk, choice, and complexity when it comes to their digital lives. In particular, the proliferation and increased number of smartphones and tablets pose a particularly interesting protection challenge,” explains Karanja.

Users unsuspectingly allow malware in their devices by visiting malicious webpages which have harmful script. File sharing programmes, and through unsecure networks, is also a common channel through which your computer/device gets viruses and other malicious software.

“You visit a legitimate looking web site and suddenly a banner appears telling you that you that your computer is infected. You can scan your computer with all the anti-spyware software in the world, over and over again until you are blue in the face, but the banner will keep telling you that your computer is infected.”

Karanja also warns users to watch out for free software, games and screen savers.

“Not every free program comes bundled with spyware or adware, but spyware/adware is often the price you have to pay for the free software. It is normally a ploy to monitor your use of the program and collect data of your online behavior.”

There has been an increase of malicious advertising or malicious software spread through user content on social networking sites like Facebook. Millions of users have been affected by clicking on certain links on the timeline only to see the suspicious post replicate itself on their profile. Pornographic sites and suspicious emails are also notorious for being a conduit of malicious software.

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While most users know the benefits of having an effective anti-virus, most have the perception that anti-virus software slows down devices and eats up a lot of data when updating.

“This is not necessarily the case,” says Karanja. “There are some heavy anti-viruses heavy anti-virus software’s that go heavy on the device resources. Norton is by far the most efficient anti-virus software. With 15 percent faster in reboot, fastest installation, below 100MB memory usage during the scanning sessions, has the lowest idles and average time to scan is 8.5 seconds on average. This ensures that your device operates at optimum speeds.”


Most common types of malware

Adware: The least dangerous and most lucrative Malware. Adware displays ads on your computer.

Spyware: Spyware is software that spies on you, tracking your internet activities in order to send advertising (Adware) back to your system.

Virus: A virus is a contagious program or code that attaches itself to another piece of software, and then reproduces itself when that software is run. Most often this is spread by sharing software or files between computers.

Worm: A program that replicates itself and destroys data and files on the computer. Worms work to “eat” the system operating files and data files until the drive is empty.

Trojan: The most dangerous Malware. Trojans are written with the purpose of discovering your financial information, taking over your computer’s system resources, and in larger systems creating a “denial-of-service attack” Denial-of-service attack: an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to those attempting to reach it. Example: AOL, Yahoo or your business network becoming unavailable.

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