Hacking is probably more common today than it has ever been. Its latest form, malware, is notorious for wreaking all sorts of havoc, ranging from simple web page editing to outright identity theft and financial ruin. Unfortunately, the ill-informed will not only dismiss the threat that malware poses, they’ll ignore the symptoms of infection and contaminate every other machine that their computer, mobile phone or tablet connects to. But because so many industries are computer-driven, like the health insurance industry and the financial industry, we can no longer treat malware as if it were a mere nuisance. Here’s what you need to be aware of.
One out of every three machines is infected
A great way to understand the severity of malware is to acknowledge its increase. As of this writing, roughly a third of all computers are infected with some variant of this binary disease. That’s not a typo. Out of every three net-connected devices that you see, one of them is infected and spreading malware at this very moment. That figure changes from country to country, however, with China taking the lead with over 53% of its machines being carriers. South Korea follows a close second, while the United States holds its position at the 30% mark.
Spam has infiltrated the in-boxes of over 24 million Americans. A little over half have suffered from a virus within the last couple of years, while a third have combated with spyware. To put malware’s hardship into perspective, about a million Americans lost money to these types of schemes.
Types of infections
It’s vital to understand malware’s versatility. That helps us fight it. Malware can be a self-distributing virus as it has been for 57% of all computer users, a Trojan virus that has tricked 21% of users into installing it, or a more specific variant, like a remotely controlled back door, monitoring tool, worm, web exploit, adware or Trojan downloader. Roughly 23% of computer users suffer from these forms at the present time.
Why it’s so hard to get rid of
Because of malware’s propensity to work as designed and work without being detected, it’s likely that it will increase even more and remain with us for a very long time. In just one year, the malware community created around 27 million different types and contributed to a daily onslaught of 74,000 strains. The most popular, Conficker, is one the most difficult forms to combat because it spreads fast and covertly. Known infections have spread across 200 countries so far and have spared no user, corporation or government entity.
Malware is expensive
Getting rid of malware is not only difficult and frustrating, it can be costly as well. After suffering from an incurable infection, an entire network could need replacing. That’s not cheap — nor is the cost to thwart further infections. Malware protection software is typically subscription based, and can range from a sparse $25 fee to thousands of dollars every month. Add in the cost of replacing stolen funds or making up for lost productivity, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a bill.
Now that you’re better informed, it’s time to take malware seriously and treat it like the destructive and common threat it is.