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Lilybell2's profile
ACE - Professor

ACE - Professor


2.2K Messages

Thursday, March 1st, 2018 4:24 PM

Malware? Viruses, Trojans, Adware and Ransomware… Oh my!

                                                                       Malware?  Viruses, Trojans, Adware and Ransomware… Oh my!

                                                                                                              by @Lilybell2


Most of us rely heavily on our computerized devices… desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, etc.   We have entrusted our photos, videos, important documents, messages, emails, contacts, and all manner of data to our electronic devices.  Many of us, maybe even most of us, fail to make backups of that important, and sometimes irreplaceable, data.  We may not even give it much thought… putting off a backup until “later,” and then “later” sometimes becomes “too late.” 


What can we do?  We’re surrounded by the Internet of Things, even our smart refrigerator may turn against us!   So, how can we protect our devices and our data?  Maybe we’re lucky and our most treasured device is one of those that’s immune to malware, could that be? 


The truth is that there is not a single device, not a single operating system, be it Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, whatever, that is immune to a malicious attack.  They can all be hacked, they all have exploitable vulnerabilities, and they are all subjected to interactions with the greatest threat faced by all computerized devices… the end user.   Yes, to quote that inimitable seer, Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”   


So, what can we do to protect us from us? 


  • Backup, backup, and backup! If the device in question has data on it, back it up.  Backup to the cloud, backup to a separate drive, just backup.  It’s also a good idea to make more than one backup, keeping an extra backup off the premises so that it’s safe from possible theft and/or natural disaster.
  • Where appropriate (obviously you can’t use anti-virus software on your refrigerator or backup its data) use good anti-virus and anti-malware software.
  • If you have a home network, and most of us do these days, please make sure that you are not using the default username and password for your home network’s modem and/or router. If you are, then change it now!  If you want to know why, then just use your search engine of choice to look up “username and password for (insert brand name) modem” (or router) and just look at all those hits!   


The Social Engineering Risk


  • Watch out for “social engineering.” It’s not just malicious links in e-mails or avoiding suspicious downloads and staying away from dodgy websites that we need to be mindful of, there’s an even bigger threat these days.  Social engineering, e.g., trickery, is a primary vector for the spreading of malware infections, including but not limited to viruses, trojans, adware and ransomware.   
  • The threat may come in the form of an e-mail or text informing you of an unrecognized charge to your bank account; or a warning that your e-mail account (or other account) is about to be shut down if you don’t act immediately; an alert that an important package can’t be delivered; or an announcement that you’ve won a bundle of money… You just need to provide a little bit of personal information and disaster will be averted or your package or cash will be delivered posthaste. Or the social engineering attack may come in the form of a threatening phone call, appearing to be from the “IRS,” the “FBI,” a police or sheriff’s department demanding money in order to prevent some form of impending disaster.  Don’t you believe it! 
  • Never, never, never let yourself be panicked into giving out your private information in response to an e-mail, a text or a phone call even if you’re told the sky will surely fall if you don’t act immediately. Instead, call your bank, or the police station, whatever, after looking up the number yourself… don’t ever use a number provided by a caller in such circumstances as it can’t possibly be trusted to be legitimate.   




  • What to do if you screwed up and gave them your private information, such as your credit card number? Use a known clean device, not your possibly infected device, to change any password related to the incident.  For example, if you gave them a credit card number, change the password for the associated financial institution, and immediately notify that financial institution that your credit card account’s information has been compromised.


It’s Even Worse!  My Device is Infected Too!


  • If you are using an Android smartphone, and you have reason to believe its security has been compromised, do not change your Google account’s password until after you have done a factory reset to wipe the device. (Yes, you need to do a factory reset! Aren’t you glad that you have a good backup of your data?)  You should change your account’s password after the factory reset, not before.  If you change the password first, on a device running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or later, and then do a factory reset, you’ll trigger a nasty run in with the built-in Factory Reset Protection.  Trust me, you don't want to go there. 
  • If it’s your desktop computer, laptop or tablet that’s been compromised, you will need to wipe it and reinstall the operating system, and/or reload that backup you were smart enough to make before disaster hit and your computer was compromised.

So, be smart, be safe, backup your data and always be on the lookout for social engineering!


Jane 2-2-13.jpg

lilybell2 joiend the community February 5, 2015.  She's been given 26 kudos, authored 29 Accepted Solutions and earned 16 badges. She received the Award for Community Excellence in 2015, 2016 and 2017.


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2 Attachments

ACE - Expert


27.4K Messages

6 years ago

Good job @Lilybell2!


Extra points for the Pogo reference. Smiley Wink

ACE - Professor


2.2K Messages

6 years ago

Thanks, Skeeter.  Smiley Very Happy


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