DT Context: Latest report on how to avoid malware from one of our favorite privacy protectors

ProtonPrivacy Blog - Malware attacks are growing.

Understand how you can protect yourself from malware in this new comprehensive guide.

What is malware? | Proton VPN
Malware is any software designed to harm computers. Find out what malware is, how it works, and how to protect yourself against it.


How to prevent malware attacks

Malware only works by exploiting computer vulnerabilities and the mistakes we make as users. According to Verizon, over 80% of recent data breaches involved human error.

Protect yourself against malware

Here are some tips to strengthen the security of your devices and help you stay vigilant against malware attacks:

  • Install antivirus or malware removal software: Most good antivirus or internet security software actively scans for all kinds of malware, and many subscriptions cover desktop and mobile OS. Make sure it’s updated with the latest virus/malware definitions.
  • Keep your devices up to date: Update your operating system, browser, browser plug-ins, and other apps to the latest versions with security patches.
  • Use strong passwords and 2FA: Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication to secure your devices and online accounts. And don’t forget your router: set a strong password with WPA2 or WPA3 encryption.
  • Secure your email: Use a secure email provider, like our Proton Mail, which has smart spam filtering to prevent malspam and PhishGuard anti-phishing protection.
  • Beware of suspicious links and attachments: Don’t click on links or download attachments in emails, text messages, or social media from unknown senders. If you use Proton Mail, use our link confirmation feature to verify email links.
  • Install apps from a trusted source: Download apps from official sources, like the Google Play store or Apple’s App Store. And read the download agreement to check you’re not consenting to install grayware (PUP) — apps you don’t need. Avoid downloading software through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing or torrenting.
  • Don’t click on digital ads: Avoid clicking on pop-up ads and get an ad-blocker (browser plug-in or standalone app). If you have a paid Proton VPN plan, you can switch on the NetShield (Ad-blocker) to block adware and malware.
  • Delete old apps: Review the apps you have on your devices regularly and remove what you don’t use, especially if they look unfamiliar.
  • Back up often: Make regular backups of your data (including offline backups) in case you get hit by ransomware or other malware that results in data loss.

Protect your business against malware

If you’re running a business, you’ll need to take the same precautions to block malware as you do at home, just scaled up to fit your company:

  • Corporate antivirus: If you have more than a couple of people in your team, consider getting enterprise antivirus/anti-malware software. Advanced corporate antivirus solutions include real-time threat monitoring focusing on endpoint security to secure whole networks.
  • Team cyber hygiene: Train your employees in anti-malware best practices, including how to recognize phishing emails, and block the use of unauthorized USB drives.
  • Passwords and 2FA: Enforce a policy of strong passwords and two-factor authentication on all your team’s devices.
  • Protect critical data: Encrypt your business’s data to prevent data loss in case you get hacked. Consider Proton for Business, which offers end-to-end, zero-access encryption for all your business data.
  • Back up your data: Make regular backups of your company’s critical data, including offline versions, to increase your chances of preserving your data in a ransomware attack.

Final thoughts — update, scan, and beware

From pesky PUP to treacherous Trojans demanding ransoms or stealing your passwords, malware comes in many forms and is constantly evolving.

Remember that even legitimate software can be just plain bad, selling your personal data to the highest bidder or draining your device’s resources. So be careful what you click on — check the fine print before you download and install.

To beat malware, Proton Mail actively checks external incoming email for malspam and includes link confirmation to help you spot phishing. Get a Proton VPN paid plan and you can also switch on NetShield, which blocks malware, adware, and other trackers that slow your device down.

And remember these three takeaways from the tips above to keep malware at bay, whatever device you’re using:

  • Update: Operating systems, antivirus and anti-malware software, browsers, and other apps — set them to update automatically to the latest versions with critical security patches.
  • Scan: Get antivirus software with real-time monitoring and regular system scans for malware, and scan manually if you spot anything suspicious.
  • Beware. Use strong passwords with 2FA and beware of suspicious links and attachments (phishing), unofficial app downloads, file sharing, online ads, and strange USB drives.

In short, to beat malware, update, scan, and beware!

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