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3 Major Malware Threats on the Rise

3 Major Malware Threats on the Rise
February 8, 2015
Although consumers may not realize it, malware might be all around them: in their computer, their smartphones and even the stores they shop. The risk of being infected by malicious software is increasing as cybercriminals use hacking tools to steal information.
Here are three malware threats on the rise:

1. Ransomware
Although consumers are often careful about how they use the Internet to avoid malware, cybercriminals always discover new ways to disguise these threats, including ransomware. In a new scheme, hackers send emails to consumers claiming their Google Chrome version is out of date and could be vulnerable, according to Infosecurity Magazine. However, the download that comes with this supposed update is actually ransomware. This type of malware aims to take not only sensitive files but also virtual money, such as Bitcoin. Infosecurity Magazine recommended consumers should avoid unsolicited emails and install malware detection tools on their devices.

2. POS Malware
Retailers were a prime target for cybercriminals last year as huge data breaches affected millions of customers, resulting in 2014 known as the "Year of the Data Breach." Cybercriminals infiltrated point-of-sale systems and infected them with malware to steal personal and financial information. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team said several POS providers and vendors reported their clients were impacted by malware, US-CERT said in August 2014. This year, POS malware could continue to be a big problem for retailers because hackers work to customize their hacking tools specifically to exploit companies' vulnerabilities.

Since data breaches could damage a company's reputation and potentially sales, companies could increase their security spending to improve their data breach detection and come up for a plan in case they experience cyberintrusions. 

3. Adware
While consumers may think adware found on their mobile devices is harmless, they could be at risk for data theft. A report from IT security firm Avast revealed apps in the Android app store, Google Play, could potentially infect millions of users with adware according to the company's blog. Android is one of the most prevalent operating systems and with this popularity comes the attention of hackers looking to exploit security flaws.

The problem is that many users are not aware that their devices are infected until they see suspicious activity as these apps could collect their information without their knowledge. 

"After a week, you might start to feel there is something wrong with your device," Avast said in the blog. "Some of the apps wait up to 30 days until they show their true colors."

Consumers could install security apps on their phones as well as limit their downloads only to software they fully trust. 

Paul O'Neil is senior information security advisor for CyberScout Consulting.

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