What is malware or malicious software?
Malicious software or malware stands for many types of malicious or deceptive software. Malware can enter insufficiently protected desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones through hyperlinks, attachments, pictures or videos in emails, SMS, WhatsApp, mobile apps, on websites, USB sticks, etc.
Criminals make clever use of vulnerabilities on computers to install their malicious software undetected. Thanks to this malware, criminals can, for example, secretly watch a device via the internet, copy or lock information and files and change all kinds of settings.
Ransomware or ransomware
Fraudsters can also use certain malware to completely lock a device or make all files unreadable without noticing. To regain access to the computer or files, the victim must first pay a ransom, in hard-to-trace bitcoins. This type of malware is called ransomware, ‘ransomware’ in Dutch.
How do I recognize malware?
A computer that is not properly secured can be infected with malware or ransomware through a hyperlink or attachment in a fake email or other text messages. By clicking on the hyperlink, the victim ends up on a fake, malware-infected website. Opening the attachment will directly install malicious software on the computer.
To identify text messages that may be fake and contain malware:
An e-mail or text message from a completely unknown organisation, mobile number or person, containing a hyperlink or attachment.
An e-mail or text message from a well-known organization, mobile number or person that you did not expect at all and that you did not ask for, containing a hyperlink or attachment.
An email or text message with a hyperlink or attachment that pressures you to click quickly on that hyperlink or attachment. The message claims that you need to click on the link or attachment very urgently as it will allow you to receive, win or earn something. Or you will miss something, you will be fined, something will be invalid or blocked or your belongings will be seized if you do not click directly on the link or attachment.
An e-mail with one or more other characteristics of fake e-mails, containing a hyperlink or attachment.
On a mobile device, on a tablet or smartphone, malware or ransomware can be found by installing an app from an unknown developer or from an unofficial platform. Therefore, you should never install apps that are not from the official Apple App Store or from the official Google Play Store on a mobile device that you use for banking or payments.
Infected fake websites
Via a hyperlink in a fake email or text message or via a search engine such as Google, you can end up on a fake website that is infected with malware or ransomware. Therefore, always check the web address of a website in the address bar of your web browser after clicking on a hyperlink.
Never download and install anything from an unknown website with a web address unknown to you. When in doubt, click away!
Infected USB stick
Malware can also enter a computer from a USB stick undetected, just by inserting an infected USB stick. Therefore, only use a USB stick of which you are sure of its origin and what is written on it.
What can I do against malware?
Unfortunately, it cannot be completely ruled out that a computer or mobile device could become infected with malware or ransomware. That is why banks protect their websites and mobile apps against malware as best they can, for example by cryptographically encrypting data before it is exchanged. You can greatly limit the risk of contamination on a device with which you bank or pay if you follow the following advice:
Update the device regularly with the latest upgrades and updates, including for all application software and mobile apps.
Always use the latest official version of a proven web browser and use all security measures of that web browser. Only install official extensions and plugins from trusted sources.
Do not install software or apps from unknown developers or suppliers or from unknown app stores.
Make sure the security settings of the device and of all software and apps are as strict as possible. If necessary, ask for help and advice from an expert or handy good acquaintance.
Be alert to fake emails and other fake messages.
Be alert to fake websites by always checking the web address carefully.
Only use USB sticks of which you are sure of their origin and what is written on them.
Make regular backups (backup copies) of your files and make sure that these backups are not directly connected to your computer.
Use proven anti-virus software (malware scanners) and a firewall. These programs warn you if suspicious software is detected and prevent that software from being installed.
Never give access to your computer over the Internet to a stranger, including someone who claims to be from your bank, from your Internet or telecom provider, from the police, or from your device manufacturer.
Still malware on your device?
Is your computer or mobile device infected with malware or ransomware, or do you suspect that it is? Then no longer use it for banking or paying. Check the transactions on your bank accounts from another, non-infected computer and change your login codes there.
Ask a specialist call for the Netherlands +31 70 808 0398 or for Belgium +32 3 808 69 69
If you have more questions about this topic, please email us.