03.09.18

3 common myths about malware

What can you do to prepare yourself for the cyber threats of 2017?

Most computer users have at least heard of malware. They know that infections of their PCs, phones or tablets with threats such as viruses and ransomware can lead to performance slowdowns and exposure of personal data.

But there’s some truth to the saying that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Awareness of the basic risks of malware is good, but it needs to be supplemented with details about the causes of, and solutions to, specific threats.

Otherwise, misconceptions and myths about malware will prevail. Let’s examine a few of them in more depth:

Myth #1: My outdated operating system is secure enough to protect me

When a software update for your desktop or mobile device becomes available, you might think that its only purpose is to introduce some new features and give the OS a fresh coat of paint. In truth, many such releases are actually packed with crucial security enhancements.

Accordingly, it is a good idea to update as soon as you can. A BitSight survey once found that in 2,000 organizations, at least half of the computers were running outdated software, putting them at elevated risk of data breaches.

It's usually a good idea to update your software to ensure you are safe.It’s usually a good idea to update your software to ensure you are safe.

Myth #2: I’ll know for sure if my device is infected

Some malware is easy to spot once it enters the system. For example, most forms of ransomware waste no time in announcing themselves, demanding payment in return for the decryption of the data they’re holding hostage.

But other malware is more subtle. Rootkits are notorious for being difficult to detect and remove once they have set up shop. Their entire purpose is to monitor activity in the background via mechanisms such as keyloggers. For this reason, it is important to actually install and run advanced cyber security software.

Myth #3: Modern malware is too powerful to be stopped

The numerous daily news stories about sophisticated, malware seemingly capable of evading all defenses, can be frightening. It is important to maintain perspective, though.

“Rootkits are notorious for being difficult to detect and remove.”

Many malware revelations are actually proofs-of-concept, meaning that they were identified in isolation by security researchers and may not have been encountered in the wild yet. A recent demonstration of a flaw in macOS High Sierra – itself a useful corrective to another myth, namely that Macs can’t get malware – was flagged by a former National Security Agency worker, but has not been exploited at scale.

Plus, even with threats that are common in the real world, they often succeed because of one of the flaws we’ve identified here, such as relying on outdated software or not having the proper defenses in place.

What do you need for effective malware defense?

Staying safe in a world of rapidly evolving malware may seem like a tall order. However, it can be done with the right combination of tools and best practices.

A good place to start is with a top-notch security software suite such as Unlimited Internet Security from Total Defense, which protects your identity, data and overall PC performance. Learn more on our shop page today to get started.