Threatware (malware, spyware) is a category of malicious computer programs designed to harm computers. The programs are spread by cybercriminals to wreak havoc and gain access to sensitive information. They include trojan horses, adware, rootkits, ransomware, worms, and keyloggers. Recently, ransomware has been in the news as hackers are using it to hold IT systems and data hostage.

Ransomware attacks on JBS Foods, Colonial Pipeline, and other major organizations made headlines earlier this year. Hackers exploit security weaknesses and hold the data of companies, governments, and organizations hostage, at times demanding tens of millions of dollars in payment.

Read deeper on the Colonial Pipeline hack on eSecurityPlanet

How does threatware spread?

Threatware can spread in different ways. Here are the most common:

  • Opening an email attachment with malware
  • Downloading free or legitimate software that secretly contains threatware
  • Visiting a website infected with malware
  • Clicking a pop-up window or a fake error message that initiates a threatware download

If successful in infecting a network, threatware can spread quickly to devices like computers. Some malware types start encrypting files several days after being downloaded, while others download in segments to try and trick antivirus software.

4 ways businesses can defend against threatware

1. Limit File-Sharing

Some sites and applications allow users to easily share files but offer little protection against threatware. Malware might be disguised as a movie, a game, or a program. Be extra careful when exchanging or downloading files.

2. Use Antivirus Software

Antivirus software detects, prevents, and eliminates malicious software in a computer. It scans files for malware before opening them. The software should be set to automatically update and perform regular scans so operating systems work efficiently.

3. Run Software Updates Regularly

Software updates are crucial because they often include patches to security holes. They remove outdated features and improve the stability of software. Outdated software is susceptible to malware infections and cyber concerns like ransomware.

4. Avoid Clicking Strange Links or Downloading Unknown or Unsolicited Files

Stop visiting unknown websites and clicking random links. Clickbait links (eye-catching links leading to websites) are sometimes used in phishing attacks, driving users to a different page where they unknowingly install malware or enter their personal information. Also, downloading files on unfamiliar sites–like pirated music videos or movies–can infect a system.

Top cybersecurity solutions

1 NINJIO Cybersecurity Awareness Training

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NINJIO is a cybersecurity awareness training and simulated phishing services company that empowers individuals and organizations to become defenders against cyberthreats. The company creates 3 to 4-minute, Hollywood style micro-learning videos that teach organizations, employees, and families how not to get hacked.

Learn more about NINJIO Cybersecurity Awareness Training

2 SpamTitan

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SpamTitan is a cloud based Anti Spam email filter. It is an easy to use, effective, multi-award winning Anti-Spam, malware blocking and phishing prevention solution .

Blocks Phishing, spam, viruses, malware, malicious links, spyware and other email security threats. We provide sophisticated email security for your business without making it complicated.

Try a FREE 14 day Trial of SpamTitan Email Security today, full support included during trial.

Learn more about SpamTitan


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Protect your company computers, laptops and mobile devices with security products all managed via a cloud-based management console. The solution includes cloud sandboxing technology, preventing zero-day threats, and full disk encryption capability for enhanced data protection. ESET Protect Advanced complies with data regulation thanks to full disk encryption capabilities on Windows and macOS. Get started today!

Learn more about ESET PROTECT Advanced

4 Managed Threat Complete

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Managed Threat Complete extends your team fast with Rapid7 MDR analysts and digital forensics and incident response experts working side-by-side. Your environment is monitored 24/7/365, and threats are acted on, end to end. Data collection is unlimited. Incident response, unlimited. Vulnerability management, unlimited. And it’s consolidation with a strategy: you proactively handle your risks, and Rapid7 reacts for you when a threat gets real.

Learn more about Managed Threat Complete

5 Graylog

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With Graylog, you get the key features you need to maintain a robust security posture. Graylog is a scalable, flexible log management and cybersecurity platform that combines SIEM, security analytics, industry-leading anomaly detection capabilities with machine learning. Built by practitioners for practitioners, Graylog Security flips the traditional SIEM application on its head by stripping out the complexity, alert noise, and high costs.

Learn more about Graylog

6 NordLayer

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The importance of cybersecurity rises with the growing numbers of cyber-attacks and malicious activities businesses face every second. Securing the data and constantly mitigating external threats like malware, phishing, or unfiltered websites is a challenge easier to overcome with advanced solutions. NordLayer is designed and developed with Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture and Zero Trust model in mind to adhere to the most comprehensive and contemporary security landscape.

Learn more about NordLayer

7 ManageEngine Desktop Central

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Endpoint Central is one super app to manage your enterprise IT, from endpoint management to end-user security. Streamline and scale every IT operation from device enrolling/onboarding to retiring for multiple device types across different platforms. Perform patching, distribute software, manage mobile devices, deploy OS, keep track of hardware/software inventory, and remotely troubleshoot end-user issues while shielding them from cyberattacks. Get a free 30-day trial on unlimited endpoints.

Learn more about ManageEngine Desktop Central

8 Dashlane

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Dashlane secures your data with a patented security architecture and AES256-bit encryption, the strongest method available. Employees can securely share encrypted passwords with individuals or groups- instead of sending them unsecurely over email or Slack. Try Dashlane Business for free

Learn more about Dashlane

What to look for in threatware protection software

  • Anti-threatware protection: this may seem obvious, but an antivirus must have anti-malware protection tools that monitor and secure the entire attack chain. It should offer file protection and automatic file recovery.
  • Exploit prevention: this protects a network by minimizing exploits in vulnerable applications, identifying malicious behavior in a system, and safeguarding critical processes in web browsers.
  • Cybersecurity and data protection: combining cybersecurity and data protection in a single, central platform reduces the security vulnerabilities linked to having multiple vendors supporting many tools across a system.
  • Backup and recovery: the threatware protection software should have extensive backup and recovery features to help get your business back up and running quickly.
Learn more about the critical role the right backup and recovery solution plays in defense against threatware. Download TechnologyAdvice’s free Cloud Storage Buyer’s Guide.
Alice Musyoka
Alice Musyoka
Alice Musyoka is a B2B Content Strategist, Copywriter, and Children’s Author. She’s been writing professionally for over 9 years and has worked with some of the world’s top brands. Her superpower is writing compelling content that resonates with readers and ranks on search engines. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
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