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Common Types of Malware Attacks and Signs Your Computer Is Infected

Successful malware attacks can devastate ill-prepared businesses, resulting in stolen data, reduced profits, unwanted downtime, expensive repairs, and a weakened public perception. With more complex types of malware attacks today than ever before, companies must take the necessary steps to protect their assets—starting by familiarizing themselves with the most common types of malware attacks.

The following article covers

  • What is malware?
  • The most common types of malware attacks
  • Signs your computer may be infected with malware
  • Ways to prevent malware attacks
  • How Onward Technology can help

What Is Malware?

Malware is malicious software or programs a threat actor creates to damage or gain access to mobile devices, operating systems, and networks. By infecting computer systems and being granted remote access, cybercriminals can download and steal sensitive information from a company or individual, which can then be used as blackmail, held for a ransom fee, destroyed, exposed to the public, or used against the owner in any number of ways.

Malware is typically administered through email attachments, fake links, ads, or specific websites. With one misplaced click, malware can infect devices and begin administering its program.

8 Common Types of Malware Attacks

There are numerous types of malware attacks, some much worse than others. In some cases, the effects of malware are simply annoying distractions. Other times, it can cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars and tarnish their reputation.

The more types of malware attacks you’re familiar with, the better prepared you can be when they attempt to breach your defenses. Here are eight of the most common forms of malware attacks.


The most well-known form of malware, a virus is a malicious code that infects the programs it spreads to. Viruses attach themselves to files, and when the file is launched, the malware steals, corrupts, moves, or alters your data. They can also be used to conduct DDoS attacks or launch ransomware attacks. The most common way to contract a virus is by clicking on unsafe links or visiting malicious websites.


One of the most common types of malware attacks, ransomware decodes your encrypted information and holds it against users as ransom. By demanding a ransom payment, cybercriminals can extort users by threatening to release sensitive information to the public or even destroy data, costing companies massive amounts of money. A ransomware attack can be carried out by an individual but is often executed by a team.


Adware—often called spam—is more than an annoying pop-up. This type of malware continuously pesters users with harmful ads that, when clicked on, can direct them to other forms of malware. Increased adware can slow your computer systems and prevent normal operations.


Spyware gathers information about a user’s activities without their knowledge, such as PINs, passwords, credit card information, addresses, and more. Spyware can be used on numerous devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Frequent spyware attacks can reduce your device’s performance over time, even if no sensitive information is accessed.


Bots perform tasks automatically without requiring human interaction. When used in large numbers, bots create what is known as a botnet, which consists of a network of bots that spam networks with attacks. These infections can spread to other devices and launch disruptive DDoS attacks and brute force attacks.


Worms attack operating systems by targeting vulnerabilities and installing themselves into networks similar to viruses. However, they don’t require a host program to replicate themselves and spread. They may be used to attack a computer’s memory or hard drive, launch DDoS attacks, steal information, and more.

Trojan Horses

Trojan horses are malware disguised as an authentic program. Often relying on social engineering techniques, trojan horses infiltrate users' devices and take control of their systems by installing viruses and worms, stealing information, running keyloggers, and more.

Fileless Malware

Whereas most malware works by infecting file systems and programs, fileless malware uses non-file objects like Powershell or Microsoft Office macros. Without a file to target, antivirus software has difficulty detecting and eliminating fileless malware, leading to infected systems that steal your information and destroy software.

The more you know about malware attacks, the better you can protect your network. However, there are many other forms of cyberattacks besides malware. Learn about other common forms of cyber threats and how you can stay protected.

Types of Cyber Security Attacks

Signs Your Computer Is Infected

With all of the types of malware attacks that cybercriminals can employ, succumbing to a malicious software infection is a real possibility. Here are some common warning signs that your computer has been compromised:

  • Your computer has slowed down significantly
  • You’re experiencing an unusually high number of pop-ups and ads
  • Frequent and unexpected crashes
  • You have unexpectedly run out of disk space
  • Internet traffic increases suspiciously
  • A sudden change in your browser homepage
  • Windows are opening and closing on their own
  • Windows OS shuts down unexpectedly
  • Your cybersecurity software has been disabled
  • Team members are receiving messages from you that you did not send
  • Your desktop contains unknown icons
  • You receive consistent error messages
  • Your control panel can’t be accessed

Experiencing one or several of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean your computer has been infected by malware, but it is grounds for further investigation.

How to Prevent Malware Attacks

There are internal steps your business can take to prevent or at least minimize malware attacks, such as increasing employee training, implementing regular updates, and monitoring network activity consistently. However, the best way to protect your company from malware attacks is by partnering with a professional IT service provider.

IT services include expert security teams that can protect your network from malware attacks before they disrupt your workflow or compromise company information. The price of hiring a service provider to handle your network security is often much more affordable than paying an internal team to do the same job. It also allows your IT staff to redirect their attention to other areas of the business.

There are a lot of IT services available, but it all simply amounts to choosing the best partner for your business model—that’s where Onward Technology can help.

Need a Reliable Solution for Malware Attacks? Turn to Onward Technology

Onward Technology is the trusted malware prevention expert you’ve been searching for. With cybercriminals finding new and advanced ways to employ various types of malware attacks, your security operations need to be handled by a fully equipped IT service provider. We perform detailed risk assessments to locate gaps in your security measures, then use that information to create protection plans for your business. We also continuously monitor and tweak your security as needed to guarantee the highest level of protection.

But don’t just take our word for it—let us show you. Contact Onward Technology today to set up a free network assessment and consultation, and if you’re pleased with the results, we’ll begin securing your network from all types of malware attacks.

© Onward Technology 2023.