The adoption of computer-based systems is now the norm. All that we do or use is directly or indirectly based on some computerized system. It is so inevitable that relying on traditional analogue-based systems is considered archaic. For the most computerization or digitization has brought about convenience. We now do things faster and more efficient, amongst other things. All these systems work on software – in essence, a piece of hardware is nothing without software. Unfortunately, the very lifeline of these systems is quite sensitive. The software can be prone to or be the basis for threats that can cause tremendous damage.
The Scourge Of Software Threats
Do you have any idea how much is lost due to poor quality software? A report on software used in the US revealed that in 2020, over US$2 trillion was lost due to substandard software. The poor quality was due to several reasons, among them being vulnerabilities in the software. Around half, a trillion US dollars is lost globally through cybercrime alone. By the year 2025, it is projected that over US$10 trillion would have been lost to cybercrime.
So this is not a subject to trivialize especially now that digitization is growing more in Zimbabwe. Here are some software threats to be wary of. Ever heard of malware? Well, that is short for malicious software. Malware is more or less a universal term that refers to any threat that can ruin or compromise devices, software, and even networks. That is what I am looking at here and more:
Viruses Or Worms
This is a malicious program or code that is designed to alter how a computer or system functions. Plus it can replicate itself thus spreading from one device to another. Viruses can do or cause significant damage given what they are capable of. Viruses can steal data, steal passwords, and can ruin files, amongst other things. Some can even go as far as deleting data or worse. Viruses can spread through various ways some of which are attachments on emails, downloads, SMSes, shareable links, and so on. They can also be spread through the sharing of content via secondary storage devices such as memory sticks.
These are programs or code that installs themselves in your devices for spying. The whole idea would be to secretly monitor all the activity on your devices. This even includes all your online activities and any other transactions or communications you might do. It can access and relay things like personal data to many possible recipients. There are some tell-tale signs that you are under attack by spyware. For example, logging in to sites can become hard, ads can incessantly pop up all the time, your system can start running slowly, or can just regularly crash for no apparent reason. It is important to know that Trojan horses and Adware are examples of spyware. Adware monitors your internet browsing history to get a sense of your preferences. Trojan horses pose as genuine software yet malicious in nature.
Ransomware is a program or code that once it installs itself can hold your data or the entire system. It achieves that by encrypting it and making it inaccessible to you. The perpetrator will then make ransom demands that must be met for them to give you back control. Since we are becoming more digitized than ever before, businesses need to be wary of ransomware.
This is malicious software that plants itself onto your browser to alter its settings. The search hijackers will do certain things that can financially benefit the perpetrator. For example, they can alter settings to allow unwanted ads to pop up. These will be ads you cannot just close but rather have to watch. They will also possibly force you to click on clicks that are monetized. In some cases, they can even force you to provide personal data.
The other threat is essentially plain old password attacks. What this means is that someone can gain unauthorized through figuring out your passwords. There are different types of password attacks. Phishing, the man in the middle attacks, brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, credential stuffing, and key loggers, amongst others. Some of the ways to guard against such are multi-factor authentication, the use of biometrics, or remote access.
For the most part, the best way to deal with software threats is antivirus software. Antivirus software usually deals with a comprehensive range of threats e.g. viruses, spyware, worms, Trojan horses, and so on. It is advisable to invest in buying official antivirus software rather than bootlegged versions. Such versions usually fall short in dealing with the whole array of threats. It is always important to keep your antivirus software up to date as well. Some of the top antivirus software to consider is Kaspersky, Norton, McAfee, Panda, BullGuard, Bitdefender, Intego, Eset, Avira, Avast, and AVG. They all are available for Android, iOS, Mac OS, and Windows.