So after asking "What is malware?" the next logical questions are, "who is creating it, and why?" The days when most malware was created by teenage pranksters are long gone. Malware today is largely designed by and for professional criminals.
These criminals may employ a variety of sophisticated tactics. In some cases, as technology site Public CIO notes, cybercriminals have even "locked up" computer data — making the information inaccessible — then demanded ransom from the users to get that data back.
But the main risk that cybercriminals pose to heavy computer users is stealing online banking information such as banking and credit card accounts and passwords. The criminal hackers who steal this information may then use it to drain your account or run up fraudulent credit card bills in your name. Or they may sell your account information on the black market, where this confidential information fetches a good price.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER FROM GETTING INFECTED BY MALWARE
- Protect your computer with strong security software
- Use a security-conscious Internet service provider (ISP)
- Enable automatic Windows updates
- Use extreme caution when opening attachments.
- Be careful when engaging in peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing
- Download the latest version of your browse
- Use security precautions for your PDA, cell phone, and Wi-Fi devices
- Configure your instant messaging application correctly
- Be certain a web site is legitimate before you go there
- Back up your files regularly