Simply put, malware is malicious software—”any program or file that is intentionally harmful to a computer, network, or server.” Cyber criminals can implant malware onto your devices or into your network through cloud access or even emailing a file. It can be transferred onto your device or server by clicking on a link in your email, downloading a file, etc. Unfortunately, implanting malware is not difficult to do. The best way to prevent malware attacks is to be prepared. So let’s look at some common types of malware, how they get into your technology, and how to prevent it from happening. 

Types of Malware

The first step to keeping your devices and systems secure is knowledge! Knowing the common types of malware and how they present themselves on your devices is imperative to protecting your business. Here are seven common types of malware to know about:


Much like in your favorite thrillers when someone is kidnapped and the family needs to pay ransom to get the victim back, ransomware is software that encrypts your data until you pay the cyber criminals a ransom to decrypt the files. Essentially, your business will be rendered completely inoperable until the decryption keys are provided. However, there is never a guarantee that the keys will be provided, will work, or that your data will actually be redeemed. Having security systems in place to protect against ransomware is imperative to keeping your data safe. 

Fileless Malware

While it sounds like this would be a type of malware that installs things onto your devices, it actually alters the files already in the device’s operating system. The operating system does not detect these edits as malicious because the files are legitimate, and the edits are not typically caught by antivirus software, rendering them 10x more successful than traditional malware attacks. Fileless malware attacks are one reason it’s imperative to stay on top of software updates on every device.  


This is a stealthy type of malware—it’s installed on your devices and gathers information about you without your knowledge. It’s different from software that gathers information about you to be helpful, like remembering login information, etc. Spyware is one of the most common types of malware, and can easily go undetected. It’s also not limited to desktops or laptops—it can also be installed on mobile apps!

Trojans / Trojan Horse

A trojan or trojan horse is a type of malware that disguises itself as legitimate code or software. In history, a trojan horse was a hollow wooden horse used by Greek soldiers to infiltrate Troy. Since the horse was large and hollow, they would conceal soldiers inside it, cross through the city gates, then release the soldiers to take over the city. Much like throughout history, in technology, trojans/trojan horses are disguised as something legitimate—usually an e-file or downloadable content. Cyber criminals will use this illegitimate software to gain access to your documents and information.


Short for robots, there are both good and bad bots. An example of a good bot is a chatbot—it helps your business be successful by connecting with customers. Good bots are used to gather information. Bad bots, in contrast, are self-programming malware that actually connects back to the device’s central server, infecting more than just the device it’s downloaded onto. These malicious bots can gather passwords, log keystrokes on a computer, obtain financial information, and so much more. 


This type of malware actually targets a device’s operating system to install itself onto networks. Worms get installed onto computers through vulnerabilities in the operating system, flash drives, or backdoors. Once worms are installed, they can be used by cyber criminals to launch attacks or steal data.


This is a type of software that gives cyber criminals complete remote access and administrative control to a device. The major downside to rootkit malware is that it stays hidden for a long period of time. 

How to Prevent Malware from Infecting Your Devices

Malware can infect computers, cell phones, tablets, and so much more, and can make doing your job near impossible. Prevention is the key to keeping your devices safe from this type of invasion. Here are a few ways to you can prevent malware from being installed onto your device:

  1. Install anti-virus software
  2. Use secure authentication methods (like 2-factor authentication)
  3. Keep device software updated
  4. Limit application privileges 
  5. Implement email security and spam protection
  6. Monitor for suspicious activity (and don’t click on or download unfamiliar links or files)
  7. Scan USBs and other external devices before plugging them into your computer 
  8. Use security analytics

The Bottom Line

Cyber criminals are everywhere and they’re looking for the right moment to infiltrate your devices, your network, and your systems. And unfortunately, it’s often times easier for them than we’d like to believe. From things we download to the apps we use to gaps in our security and failing to keep our software updated, cyber criminals can gain access to our devices. To keep cyber criminals out and off of your devices, it’s important to keep your security systems top notch and updated. 


If your business could use some security improvement, give us a shout! We can help you figure out what managed services would be best for you.