Viruses, Malware and Vulnerabilities 101

Viruses and other types of malware are malicious software programs that take advantage of (i.e., exploit) another program’s vulnerabilities to cause damage or steal data.

Malware exploit bugs and other weaknesses or vulnerabilities in software code. Software developers provide patches to fix these problems, but until a patch is applied, the software remains vulnerable and at risk for malware infection.

Malware finds its way to infect software through the web, email, file downloads, portable storage devices, applications and other means. Once downloaded, a piece of malware can steal data, consume computing resources, and render the machine useless until the malware is removed.

Cybercriminals are known to attack previously unknown vulnerabilities in what is called a zero-day attack. This means the software vendor had no warning about the vulnerability and therefore no opportunity to create a patch or warn users. Zero-day attacks are particularly dangerous because they quickly spread across a network.

We recommend companies implement robust patching processes to minimize vulnerabilities. We also recommend you implement antivirus protection that detects zero-day threats and covers the different ways software can be attacked. A comprehensive antivirus solution updates the software code that occurs in real time, to provide optimal protection against web-based malware, while also providing controls for network access, unauthorized applications, devices and file types.

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