Misconceptions about malware are everywhere. For the sake of proper security, it’s vital to know what these are and to dismantle them through education. It’s the only way to make sure we can safeguard personal and professional computers.
Malware Misconception #1: You Can’t Get It on a Mac
One of my former colleagues used to swear that Macs were not susceptible to viruses. So whenever there was one going around, he would wave his hand away. Experts say that while most hackers don’t target Macs, saying that yours could never be infected isn’t exactly correct.
“Malware doesn’t have to replicate to be a pain in your machine,” Lysa Myers posted to Intego.com. “There are a lot of different types of threats to Macs, but the most common one these days is spyware. It gets into your system and steals your data, whether it’s in text laying around your file-system or it requires eavesdropping on your chat sessions.”
You Can Get Malware by Downloading Emojis
In fact, getting malware is as easy as downloading an emoji on your computer. There’s a lot of cute videos of animals jumping into pools. So aren’t you glad that Facebook warns you that it might be something you want to click on? At least on its mobile app.
The Heartbleed virus is currently causing hysteria – I’d say “mass.” But as long as you change affected passwords, you are supposedly going to be fine. It’s probably now uncommon for someone to have not had an experience with malware.
In an interview with Hacksurfer, David Britton, vice president of industry solutions for 41st Parameter, said companies are often wasting their “time, energy, and resources” chasing after new-fangled solutions.
“I think that a lot of people feel [malware] is taking over machines left and right and attacking a victim’s accounts from the victim’s machine,” Britton said. “And the evidence we’ve seen is the fraudsters don’t see that as a very scalable approach to theft because it requires somewhat opportunistic thinking – waiting for someone to either log into their account or only targeting a very specific individual with their specific account. What we typically find is really happening is most of the malware on the market today – whether it’s using man-in-the-browser tactics, whether it’s using things like session hijacking, whether it’s using things like HTML injection – almost every case they are still simply harvesting credentials.”
Antivirus Doesn’t Cut It Anymore
And before you say, “but I have antivirus software XYZ installed,” stop. IT experts say that is merely a safety net, not a sure thing against malware.
Andy Hamilton, a London-based web developer, wrote that all the people making malware have to do is write code that is undetectable to the virus software. That’s kind of scary to think about, isn’t it?
Another misconception he pointed out was that people will find their computers start to run slower, leading them believe there is malware. That could be the case, but Hamilton, who joined a hacking community to gain some knowledge on how to protection his computer, said many malware developers do the opposite. They make it appear as if everything is ok, or perhaps, even better.
“They are made to sit there in silence and observe,” he wrote. “…so the end user won’t ever suspect anything fishy and take their computer to the repair man.”
So do yourself a favor, and take what you have heard about malware with a grain of salt.