Viruses and Malware: The Key to Avoiding Infection

1 Jun


Nearly everyone has something installed on their computers to protect them from these types of threats. And with good reason – malicious programs are nearly as prevalent as antivirus installations. Black hat hackers (industry term for “the bad guys … we’re white hat hackers, the good guys!) are constantly working to create new ways to take advantage of PCs, both those used in a corporate setting and those used at home.

Computer viruses are technically a type of malware. One can acquire a virus through a multitude of ways. Once infection has been initiated, viruses generally quietly replicate themselves somewhere in the machine’s filesystem. Once they’ve replicated, they often perform some type of harmful activity. For example, a virus might provide an attacker complete control over your machine, just as though they were sitting in front of it. Alternatively, a virus might operate automatically and silently in the background, copying keystrokes and stealing sensitive data while sending it back to the person who infected you.

Malware is an umbrella category for any type of software that operates with an intent that is undesirable to the user or malicious. While viruses are a malware, there are many other kinds of malware. Have you ever had a toolbar that seemed to pop out of nowhere on your web browser, and then noticed that you were being shown loads of pop up advertisements? This is likely the result of an adware infection, a type of malware that displays unwanted advertisements and redirects your attempts to browse the web.

Clearly, these are infections we want to avoid!

The key to remaining malware free is in user-education. Antivirus and antimalware programs do work but they should not be relied upon. They can only offer so much protection. Hackers are constantly working to circumvent them. It’s a cat and mouse game that you don’t want to get caught in the middle of.

What do we mean by user education?

An understanding of how infections happen is critical. Users cannot protect themselves if they do not know which practices are unsafe. The vast majority of infections occur through just a handful of venues. In part two of this article, we’ll describe those venues and how to avoid them, keeping you and your organization safe.


W. Scott Montgomery

W. Scott Montgomery

W. Scott Montgomery joined OST in the spring of 2009 as the Manager of the OST Security Practice. Scott joined OST with over 30 years of IT and IT Security related experience. Scott has personally performed more than 1,000 Security Assessments for several hundred organizations. Using a proprietary and unique assessment approach, developed by Scott and used since 1998, the OST Security Team has the ability to gather, analyze and assess the security of any organization.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: