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How to Prevent Malware Attacks: 7 Practical Strategies

In today’s dynamic digital landscape, businesses cannot be lenient with cybersecurity. One slip-up can lead to financial losses, data breaches, and operational disruptions for SMBs in the Philippines. Malware is just one of the many things businesses and individuals alike must look out for.

Let us get to know this enemy so you can strategically use data protection best practices to your advantage. In this article, we’ll define what malware is, how malware attacks work, and how to prevent malware attacks.

What is Malware?

Malware, short for “malicious software,” encompasses a wide range of programs designed to infiltrate systems, steal confidential information, disrupt operations or productivity, spy on people’s computer activity, and other unscrupulous activities.

Once malware has infected a device or system, it can be hard to remove and can spread across different devices. There are different types of malware:

  • Virus – these attach themselves to legitimate files or programs and replicate when executed. They often cause system slowdowns, data corruption, or unauthorized access.
  • Worm – these are self-replicating malware that spread across networks by exploiting vulnerabilities like weak passwords. They can cause network congestion and service disruptions.
  • Adware – these display unwanted advertisements or pop-up messages that redirect to malicious websites.
  • Rogueware – these trick users into believing their device is infected with malware so they’ll click on infected warning messages.
  • Spyware – these are designed for surveillance, collecting sensitive information, or identity theft.
  • Ransomware – these encrypt files or lock users out of systems in exchange for ransom. These lead to data loss, operational downtime, and financial losses.
  • Trojan Horse – these masquerade as legitimate software to deceive users into downloading and executing them. They steal sensitive information, create backdoors for remote access, or add more malware.
computer warning

What is a Malware Attack?

A malware attack is the deliberate deployment of malicious software to infiltrate the security of computer systems, networks, or devices, and then gain access or control. Different types of malware are designed for specific purposes ranging from data theft and financial fraud to system corruption and espionage.

Malware can have devastating consequences for both individuals and businesses. Any type of malware can disrupt operations or simply hinder an individual’s productivity, leak sensitive information, damage business reputations, and ultimately, lead to serious financial losses.

How Does Malware Work?

Malware exploits vulnerabilities in target systems or leverages social engineering techniques to trick users into executing malicious code that then spreads or multiplies within the device or system. Malware is typically spread through email attachments, fake ads, infected apps or websites, and pop-up messages scaring or promising gifts.  

Once installed, malware can perform a variety of actions, including data theft, system corruption, financial fraud, espionage, and botnet formation that can be used for DDoS attacks.

How to Prevent Malware Attacks

Philippine businesses continue to be one of the most targeted by cyberattacks, which is why they must learn how to protect themselves from malware attacks. Here are strategies for preventing malware attacks in your business:

1. Consistently Educate Users

Never stop educating users about common malware threats, phishing techniques, and security best practices to help them be better equipped to recognize and avoid potential risks.

Provide training on safe browsing habits, email security, and how to identify suspicious links or attachments. Likewise, keep them updated on the latest tactics used by attackers.

training employees

2. Use Anti-Malware Software

Deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all devices to detect and remove malware infections immediately. More importantly, make sure that anti-malware solutions are regularly updated with the latest threat intelligence and signature updates to effectively mitigate the latest iterations of malware threats.

3. Employ Multi-Factor Authentication Methods

Attackers often exploit users to infiltrate systems. A great way to avoid this is through multi-factor authentication, such as biometric authentication, one-time passwords, or hardware tokens.

Implementing multi-factor authentication helps protect users, makes it easier to keep an eye on employee accounts, and deter potential hackers.

4. Limit User Access to Systems

The principle of least privilege helps organizations keep various cybersecurity attacks contained by limiting user access to systems. Under this principle, you restrict user access rights and privileges to only essential resources or functionalities required to perform their tasks.

Implement access controls, role-based permissions, and privilege escalation mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access and limit the impact of potential malware infections, making it easier to spot and stop attacks.

updating remote access

5. Strengthen Network Security

Your network security serves as your castle’s moat, protecting it from external invasions. Strengthen your network security measures with firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, unified threat management, and application control and visibility. These measures help monitor and filter incoming and outgoing traffic for signs of malicious activity.

Deploying these is not enough to protect your business from malware. You also need to regularly update network infrastructure and security policies to address emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

A trusted service provider like Fortinet NGFW can help you build strong external protection to prevent hackers from infiltrating your systems.

6. Perform Regular Security Audits

Conduct regular security audits, vulnerability assessments, and penetration tests to identify and fix any potential security weaknesses in your systems, applications, and network infrastructure.

Use automated penetration testing to simulate real-world scenarios in combination with manual inspections to detect and address vulnerabilities in any aspect of your system before they can be exploited by attackers. Conduct audits regularly to reap the benefits of penetration testing.

7. Create and Regularly Update Backups

Creating and regularly updating systems or data backups is an important part of cybersecurity since some malware or attackers have intentions to destroy or encrypt a business’s data.

To avoid drastic damage from such attacks, businesses should implement regular backup procedures to create copies of critical data and systems, ensuring redundancy and recovery capabilities in the event of a malware attack or a natural disaster.

Store backups securely offline or in the cloud to prevent them from being compromised in case your company becomes infected by malware.

data management

Keep Malware Out with Kital

Understanding malware and its mechanisms can help us figure out how to stop malware from infecting our systems, networks, and devices. Malware continues to evolve, so it’s imperative for businesses to continuously update and strengthen their defenses against various threats.

Partner with Kital to build better protection against malware for your business. Get in touch with us today!

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