The usual virus that attacks a computer is part of a larger sector of malicious codes that hacks systems. Also known as malware, the earliest of such software programmes were initially transferred through floppy disks and internal network servers.
Trend Micro, a security and anti-virus provider, has recently said that India ranks third in a list of companies that are most affected by online banking malware, as of April-June 2014. Japan tops the list followed by the US. Such attacks can enable hackers to steal personal information from bank accounts and even access digitally stored information.
Malware is a malicious software code that can cause intentional harm after attaching itself to a system. Some of these malware include computer viruses, trojans, spyware, scareware, adware and rogue programs. A Chennai-based anti-malware solutions website www.malwarehelp.org founded by Shanmuganathan M, lists various other such software that attacks computer systems. They include browser hijackers, rootkit, web bug or web beacons, keyloggers, and malicious dialers. Started in 2005, the website hosts solutions for preventing and eliminating various malware threats.
Viruses like these are easily transmitted through CDs, pen drives, software downloads, music or video downloads, program installation and through some security holes in your firewall (a security system that prevents transmission of information or access to insecure networks and protects a system from threats while using the internet). These malware infections will slow down your computer and it will help hackers track your activities on the system.
According to malwarehelp.org, “One of the oldest and most common spyware tricks is to automatically change your web browser’s default or start-up homepage. You end up on some strange site.” Malwarehelp.org also lists some other aspects for identification, like pop-up windows that appear for no apparent reason, new programs installed in your system that you haven’t manually installed, slower browser and new toolbars installed in your web browser.
“A minor form of malware may be an adware which triggers constant pop-up ads. On the other end, there are trojans that surreptitiously try to steal your personal and banking credentials to be used by criminals. There was also a recent rash of ransomware, a type of malware that locks documents, pictures, music, video and other files on a PC. Once infected, the victim is asked to pay a ransom to receive an unlock key,” explains Shanmuganathan. In case the malware is classified as a Trojan or computer virus, then the problems would be on a large scale and personal data would be compromised. Hackers can access files, information, images and even access your webcam through these viruses.
There are a lot of anti-malware solutions. As the infection base is vast, the anti-virus solution companies are also plenty in number. Some major players include Kaspersky, Norton and McAfee Internet security software. Spybot Search & Destroy, avast!, AVG Anti-Virus and Avira are well known free antivirus software solutions. Microsoft also offers a free malicious software removal tool for its Windows users.
“All major anti-virus software makers have their resellers in India. A few have their customer support centres outsourced to India. Comodo (www.comodo.com) has a lab in Chennai. Some Indian anti-virus companies include K7 in Chennai (www.k7computing.com) and Pune-based Quick Heal (www.quickheal.co.in). Innovazion’s product, the NaMo software, is the new addition to this list. Though there are virus-specific software solutions, nowadays a decent anti-virus software is expected to do it all, and provide all-round protection,” says Shanmuganathan.
The Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Communication and IT, Government of India, is currently sponsoring research in various cyber-crime related areas. On malware, they are conducting a research on Design and Development of an Anti Malware solution for Web Applications and Mobiles through the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Hyderabad. The project aims to develop anti-malware solutions for both web-based and mobile applications.
There are many blogs and websites on the internet that provide information on solving and identifying threats to the computer. One such website is www.blog.malwarebytes.org, which offers debug codes and applications for malware-free systems. They have a presence in Asia, Europe and America. They offer Malware bytes and anti-malware software.