5 Types of Malware Every Business Should Be Aware Of

Hackers have been increasingly targeting small businesses.

New iterations bypass antivirus programs that most of your employees likely have on their computers. In most cases, you or your employees won’t even know that your laptops, PCs, tablets, or phones are infected with malware.

However, something will be off. There will be chatter about the increased number of suspicious messages or unwanted ads by the water cooler. Devices will be uncharacteristically slow. Servers will be working hard as they install programs and download data — even after working hours. With certain kinds of malicious software, devices might also crash.

What are the top five types of malware that every business should be aware of?

5 types of malware small businesses should be aware of

#1 Mobile Malware

Besides laptops, PCs, and tablets, employees use mobile phones to connect to the network of a business and get access to the customer’s personally identifiable data.

Over the years, poorly protected mobile phones have become a growing security threat for organizations.

As most businesses focus their security efforts on laptops and PCs, smartphones get overlooked — which is exactly why hackers exploit them to deploy their malware.

Mobile malware is an umbrella term for versatile kinds of malicious software that can be installed on a mobile device. When you install a new app on your phone, you could accidentally install malware, including banking Trojans, ransomware, or adware.

Scrolling through your mobile phone, it’s easy to click an infected ad or download a virus over email. A couple of signs a phone is infected with mobile malware include slow performance, overheating, or a rapidly draining battery.

#2 Infostealer

Infostealers refer to the kind of malware whose goal is to obtain sensitive data from the database of a business. In cybersecurity, they’re also known as “spyware” because their purpose is to allow the bad actor to spy on their victims.

Once a device is infected with this Trojan virus, it seeks out where the data is stored within the system to gather it and send it to a malicious actor.

Depending on the type of info stealer, it can help a hacker find credentials or databases with personal data. Some achieve that via keylogging (recording a person’s keystrokes), and other strains seek out credentials that are saved within the browser.

Hackers that use this malware are usually looking to steal passwords that a person uses to log into their banking services, social media, or email.

According to reports for 2023, the number of cyber-attacks that involve info stealers has doubled. The malware is also easy to purchase via illegal hacking forums or on the Dark Web.

#3 Trojans

A Trojan is a malicious program that hides itself behind other, legitimate-looking programs. To bypass the anti-malware that you have on your computer, they mimic smaller-sized and trusted software.

Employees can accidentally download it via an infected email attachment. Or get it after clicking an infected ad.

Trojan is another umbrella term for a large number of malware strains that can infect your worker’s device.

They have a wide array of capabilities, but criminals mostly use them to install even more malware on your device, to steal data, or to gain remote control of a person’s device.

Every year, there are more types of Trojan malware (and more malware in general) — making it challenging for businesses to block and mitigate them all.

#4 Adware

Adware is malware whose purpose is to display large volumes of unwanted ads on one’s web browser. This is the most common kind of malware that targets mobile phones.

After the device gets infected with adware, your employees will get many pop-ups and unwanted ads covering the screen of their phone or computer.

Depending on the strain of malware, they might get so many pop-ups and ads that they won’t be able to complete their daily tasks. For every ad they close, two or three new windows pop up to cover the screen.

Needless to say, it’s a productivity killer.

These ads usually feature things like weight loss programs, casino offers, or even NSFW websites.

Most users download it alongside other software or get it via scam emails that contain infected attachments.

Pay attention to major changes on your browser’s homepage, new ads, slow-performing devices, or extensions that appeared without you downloading them.

#5 Ransomware

Ransomware is the type of malware that has been on the rise over the last couple of years. After the ransomware infects the device, you’ll know right away. It encrypts files (or parts of the infrastructure) and displays the ransom message on the screen of the victim.

The capabilities of ransomware differ from one strain to another. Some might also be able to steal data from your devices.

Therefore, organizations that are vulnerable to ransomware attacks the most are those that gather and store a lot of sensitive data.

While healthcare, financial, and manufacturing industries are the main targets, criminals have targeted other industries. More companies today gather a lot of customer data that can be exploited if it’s not properly protected.

In 2022, there were 493.33 million recorded ransomware attacks on companies all over the globe. A staggering number.

Protect All Your Devices Against Malware

Some types of malware are silent and invisible. This means that months could pass until you uncover that your worker’s devices have been infected with mobile malware, infostealer, or Trojan.

When you do discover them on your computer, a threat actor might already have access to the credentials of all employees within your company or the sensitive files of your customers.

Other types of common malware, such as ransomware or adware, are easier to spot. Ransomware displays the ransom message, and adware pushes a large number of pop-up ads on devices.

Even mobile phones, which many consider more secure, need to be protected against common cyber exploits such as malware.

Over 87% of businesses store sensitive user data.

To keep this important asset safe, it’s vital to have protection that can track malware signs and recognize known types’ footprints.

Once it uncovers them, it should also block malware installation attempts on your and your worker’s devices.

Image: Depositphotos

Pratik Dholakiya Pratik Dholakiya is the founder of Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. As a passionate SEO and content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory, and Inc42, to name a few.