Do You Need Anti-Malware Software? Here are the Facts

Antimalware software protects your system by scanning it for malware signatures. These signatures are based on a vulnerability database. The antimalware tool will alert you, block websites, and take actions to handle malware or PUP (potentially unwanted programs).

You absolutely do need anti-malware software! This software is essential to your systems security. Aside from the built-in OS firewall, an additional anti-malware tool to stop threats is your only end-point protection solution.

Having multiple security measures in place will help to protect your data and system. There are a few caveats however; such as keeping the anti-malware updated along with your computer, and only downloading the tools from reputable sources.

It should be noted that this software along with the firewall won’t be able to protect from 100% of the threats but they will be able to stop most attacks/viruses. One should never rely on just 1 security measure.

If you want a more in-depth look at cybersecurity, this audiobook will reveal many of the latest security threats.

Do antivirus programs find any type of malware on your system? 

Yes and no. Anti-malware/anti-virus software gets their malware signatures from a known malware database. Only known malware are detected; if a particular piece of malware reached your system and it is completely new then you are out of luck.

Chances are there is going to be a waiting period for a patch to be available that addresses that new piece of malware. The malware gives off a particular signature, and if it is flagged as malicious then it is added to the database through a technical procedure.

Overview of common malware types

What follows is a list of some of the most common types of malware. Malware is malicious software that can cause incidents like data breaches, identity theft, stolen credentials, and stolen payment information to name a few.

Malware can be introduced into your system by black hat hackers, clicking links in spam messages, visiting malicious sites, or by downloading malicious software.

In addition, failure to update your systems firewall service, browsers, or other 3rd-party applications can lead to an increased risk of attacks.

  • Spyware

Spyware works by gathering information like live webcam footage, photos, keystrokes, web browsing history/logins, and banking information.

Spyware can also allow additional software to be installed if it is left untreated. Spyware can find its way on your system by means of phishing links, drive-by downloading, click-jacking, browser hijacking just to name a few.

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Some Spyware processes to watch out for are: mwsoemon.exe, wsup.exe, or istsvc.exe. Users must pay attention to security indicators online and be careful not to click on just anything; this is how spyware gets on your system.

  • Adware

Adware is more annoying than anything. Although all adware isn’t known for spreading malware, that doesn’t mean it won’t. Adware is a type of software that displays many advertisements on your screen.

The developers/users that attach the adware to your system make money from the advertisements that display on your screen. Any type of malware is bad but this type isn’t necessarily dangerous on it’s own.

The real danger comes from the web page redirects and the message boxes that can lead to additional malware if clicked. If your computer/browser becomes slow or starts acting erratic then you probably have adware or some other type of malware.

  • Backdoors

A backdoor can be created by an attacker embedding it inside a file similar to a virus. The backdoor will allow privileged access or access to resources, systems, files, or other data that otherwise was private or protected.

Backdoors can be attached to other malware like spyware, RATs, and adware. The backdoor is designed to allow access in the targets system which the attacker has discovered through recon techniques.

A backdoor can be created by the system administrator or developer to allow for quick access for troubleshooting or convenience. It will usually allow for authentication bypass as well.

  • Keyloggers

This can be a hardware or software based tool that captures the typed keystrokes on a particular system. There are USB based keyloggers that look like regular flash drives. There are also software keyloggers which are easier to detect than their hardware counterparts. 

The software form of keylogging will record the keystrokes of the user and send them back to the requesting host. Keyloggers will grab anything from account logins to credit card numbers. Identity theft can be the aftermath of a successful keylogging.

  • Trojans

These are programs disguised as legitimate software that you may want to use such as antivirus or antimalware. The purpose of trojans is to gain administrator access to systems using code built into the non-legitimate software. Trojans don’t need a host program to operate as opposed to viruses which require a parent program/process. 

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Common types of trojans include: DoS, banker, Droppers, Ransom, and SMS. Of course there are several more and they accomplish different tasks. Trojans can be very tricky to detect if they write themselves to the registry or deploy a tough virus. 

It is important to note that all of the above malware threats can be deployed via Trojans. There are several programs that design trojans for you and you can specify what the payload is going to be. In addition, there are new attacks everyday that haven’t been discovered.

Until that particular trojan has been discovered then security companies can’t make a patch for it. There is a persistent game of cat and mouse in the cyber world; as patches are made, new threats get developed constantly.

Commonly used antimalware tools you can use for free

  • Windows Defender 

Windows Defender is the antivirus software included in Windows. It is able to detect malicious programs and spyware just to name a few. It is an easy-to-use user interface. It is found in the “Windows Security” area of your settings (gear icon).

Upon clicking the virus and threat protection selection you are presented with this screen. Here you can view the ’Current threats’ summary. You can also perform a quick scan, edit scan options, view protection history, and view the allowed threats.

Upon initiating a quick scan you are presented with the scan screen. Here the status of the scan is displayed. 

Upon completion of the quick scan, the summary of the scan is displayed along with other scan types that can be executed. If you have time on your hands run a full scan! (these are more thorough than quick scans)

Windows Defender is an essential tool built into Windows. It shouldn’t at all be disabled. This is one of the end point protection measures that is recommended to leave on at all times; the other is the Windows firewall.

Defender is the main antivirus solution that is free for Windows users. It offers alerts when PUP (potentially unwanted programs) are detected, malware downloaded, or website blocked. You will see a notification on your lower right-hand side of the screen or in the center.

  • Malwarebytes 
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Malwarebytes anti-malware has quickly become one of the most popular and effective tools on the market. The offerings are a free version (most popular) or a PRO version which includes real-time ransomware and exploit protection.

This tool is great because it is so easy to use and the features offered provide flexibility and great options! Scans, schedules, threat quarantine, and an allow list are just some of the awesome features available!

Malwarebytes offers several options and features. There is notification, security, general, and allow list tabs just to name a few. Upon opening Malwarebytes, you are presented with the dashboard. This is the general overview from the tool as it sees your system. Here’s a scan:

The tool starts the scan, checks for updates, and begins scanning the system. The items scanned, time, and detections are displayed on the right-hand side. The detections are referring to PUP, threats, etc.

Here is what the scan summary window looks like. If anything was detected, it highly recommended that you view the report to gain more information on the detected items.

  • Spybot

‘Spybot Search and Destroy by Safer-Networking, is a malware detection tool that scans for rootkits, spyware, and adware. It is a tool that has free and paid versions; it is also very easy to use just like Malwarebytes.

This is the main window, it is best to check for updates before scanning.

Next the scan can be executed and temporary files purged….

If you ever need help using Spybot you can go to the help tab.

In summary, these 3 malware scanning utilities are essential for every computer user. The tools are safe and easy to use, cost nothing to use, and are effective.

In addition, keeping the tools up to date is really the most important step; otherwise, the scanner might not catch a threat or scan for one because it isn’t in the database because it wasn’t updated.

Hopefully, you enjoyed my article and learned something about malware, antimalware, and the reason why we all need protection as technology users. Stay safe!

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