If you have a small business it’s important to know what malware affects small businesses. It common for business owners to have some understanding of what a virus is but fail to realize that viruses are only part of the problem. Viruses are just one type of infection which falls under the larger umbrella of malware. So what exactly is malware and how does malware affects small businesses?
According to Wikipedia in the simplest sense malware “is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network.”
However, not all malware are viruses although many use the term interchangeably. It’s similar to how not every computer is made by Dell. Dell is just one of many brands of computers and viruses are just one brand of several types of malware.
The categories of malware that affect small businesses include viruses, bots, scareware, ransomware, adware, spyware, rootkits, and worms.
Disrupts the normal use of the computer. Usually characterized by sluggish performance and crashing. A virus’s goal is to destroy and harm computer data. It can mean encrypting the data so it’s inaccessible to the user (such as ransomware which we covered in this blog article) or by corrupting the operating system. Infections of this variety are often times created for petty reasons, only to cause havoc. Some viruses are created there is no money to be gained by its creator, unlike ransomware.
This type of malware encrypts your data and you need the pay some type of ransom in order to get your files back. We covered ransomware like the Wannacry ransomware attack in this article. Most of the time the payment is done through a cryptocurrency, gift cards, or other untraceable means. It’s unfortunate that even after you pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars requested there is no guarantee that you will get your data back. Depending on your small business without your data you might not be able to continue operations. This malware affects small businesses to a crippling degree.
This type of attack is a numbers game. Your computer and thousands of others can be used under the direction of one individual (The Bot Master) after being infected by this type of malware. Usually, infected computers are then used in an orchestrated action such as to take down specific websites or launch DDoS attacks.
A DDoS attack or distributed denial of service attack is when multiple computers are attempting to access a website constantly overwhelm it. A website is hosted by a network and its resources are finite. If enough people repeatedly attempt to access that site it can be made inaccessible for other users not involved in the attack. This is one of the worst ways malware affects small businesses. Fewer people coming to your website means less money in your pocket.
An extreme infection can infect the operating system level. A computer that is infected with a rootkit is as exploited as it gets. A rootkit allows for the control and editing by a malicious 3rd party on every level of the system. Passwords can be changed, accounts can be locked, keystrokes can be logged, any number of things are possible. It really just depends on what that individual wants to do or what their intentions are.
This type of malware pops on your computer saying you need to pay money in order to fix an imaginary error. Scareware will make up any number of very scary sounding reasons as to why you have to pay or call a number. Scareware may claim your hard drive is about to crash, the FBI will be notified of illegal activity, all of your personal data is being exploited and set off overseas, etc. The list of lies is endless but the goal is to scare you while there is no actual threat being present. Sometimes this type of malware is bundled with less than reputable software. While you were rushing to click ‘Next’ during the installation process you may have not noticed that you agreed to download a bundled software. That bundled software is sometimes scareware.
One of the least scary of the malware types listed. Often times it’s primarily just advertisements popping up on the computer. These types of advertisements might be misleading or outright lies but they’re essentially just advertisements. This version of malware could also be considered scareware because it’ll frighten you into calling a phone number and is a thinly veiled advertisement.
Software that is designed to gather your personal information and sell it to third parties. It has been increasingly common for spyware has been used against small businesses to get it’s customer’s credit cards and personal information. Although this type of spyware tends to be done on a larger scale because the reward also is greater it is not uncommon for it to happen also on personal computers. Passwords, Social Security numbers, bank accounts, etc. are all key information that can later be sold on the Dark Web.
Once a worm is on one computer in the network it’s the goal is to get on all of the computers in the network. Worms are designed to bounce between computers, infect and control, and then move on. Its intentions vary but worms dig into the network and that’s what classifies them as worms.
It is important to know how malware affects small businesses in the ever-changing tech landscape. Knowledge and experience is the only way to keep your company safe in the future. However, if computer knowledge isn’t your strong suit, it’s best to employ a managed service provider for IT. Rush Tech Support is a team of professionals who specialize in understanding the small business needs.