Have an incident ? Report Here
Malicious code is unwanted files or programs that can cause harm to a computer or compromise data stored on a computer. Various classifications of malicious code include viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.
Viruses have the ability to damage or destroy files on a computer system and are spread by sharing an already infected removable media, opening malicious email attachments, and visiting malicious web pages.
Worms are a type of virus that self-propagates from computer to computer. Its functionality is to use all of your computer’s resources, which can cause your computer to stop responding.
Trojan Horses are computer programs that are hiding a virus or a potentially damaging program. It is not uncommon that free software contains a Trojan horse making a user think they are using legitimate software, instead the program is performing malicious actions on your computer.
How can you protect yourself against malicious code?
Following these security practices can help you reduce the risks associated with malicious code:
Install and maintain antivirus software. Antivirus software recognizes malware and protects your computer against it. Installing antivirus software from a reputable vendor is an important step in preventing and detecting infections. Always visit vendor sites directly rather than clicking on advertisements or email links. Because attackers are continually creating new viruses and other forms of malicious code, it is important to keep your antivirus software up-to-date.
Use caution with links and attachments. Take appropriate precautions when using email and web browsers to reduce the risk of an infection. Be wary of unsolicited email attachments and use caution when clicking on email links, even if they seem to come from people you know. (See Using Caution with Email Attachments for more information.)
Block pop-up advertisements. Pop-up blockers disable windows that could potentially contain malicious code. Most browsers have a free feature that can be enabled to block pop-up advertisements.
Use an account with limited permissions. When navigating the web, it is a good security practice to use an account with limited permissions. If you do become infected, restricted permissions keep the malicious code from spreading and escalating to an administrative account.
Disable external media AutoRun and AutoPlay features. Disabling AutoRun and AutoPlay features prevents external media infected with malicious code from automatically running on your computer.
Change your passwords. If you believe your computer is infected, change your passwords. This includes any passwords for websites that may have been cached in your web browser. Create and use strong passwords, making them difficult for attackers to guess. (See Choosing and Protecting Passwords and Supplementing Passwords for more information.)
Keep software updated. Install software patches on your computer so attackers do not take advantage of known vulnerabilities. Consider enabling automatic updates, when available. (See Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.)
Back up data. Regularly back up your documents, photos, and important email messages to the cloud or to an external hard drive. In the event of an infection, your information will not be lost.
Install or enable a firewall. Firewalls can prevent some types of infection by blocking malicious traffic before it enters your computer. Some operating systems include a firewall; if the operating system you are using includes one, enable it. (See Understanding Firewalls for Home and Small Office Use for more information.)
Use anti-spyware tools. Spyware is a common virus source, but you can minimize infections by using a program that identifies and removes spyware. Most antivirus software includes an anti-spyware option; ensure you enable it.
Monitor accounts. Look for any unauthorized use of, or unusual activity on, your accounts—especially banking accounts. If you identify unauthorized or unusual activity, contact your account provider immediately.
Avoid using public Wi-Fi. Unsecured public Wi-Fi may allow an attacker to intercept your device’s network traffic and gain access to your personal information.