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What action to take if you are a victim of malware

It is hard to imagine our life without the internet today. Till two decades back, the internet was just a novelty and a source of curiosity for most of us. It's incredible the way it has metamorphosized into a tool with which every single day our lives rely on. Today our way of working, communicating, socializing, shopping, learning - everything is now digitally driven. The devices we use have also evolved from the bulky hardware in the early computer days to handheld devices today. Even the basic software which used to run the systems have now gone virtual i.e., cloud-driven. 

With significant advances in technology, crimes also evolved. From physical thefts and burglaries, it is now conducted over the virtual landscape. Crimes have evolved into cybercrimes which means new types of security features are required for the digital world. 


Safety is never restricted to a single device. It requires a security suite to protect all devices, such as desktops, laptops, Smartphones, iPad, servers. In addition to this, IT network architecture, whether it is on-premises or cloud-based, also needs security. 

Users, individuals, and business enterprises are always vulnerable to malicious threats from cybercriminals. Most of these attacks occur as phishing, viruses, worms, bots, ransomware, trojan horses, spyware, etc. These crimeware attacks relentlessly and in a big way using the internet. Strong security measures can protect the users themselves from cyber-attacks. Despite the security precautions taken, attacks happen and compromise the identity, steal data and cause monetary and reputational losses to the victim. 

If one is a victim of a cyber-attack, these are a few steps to take in response to the incident.


Disconnect if a malware attack gets detected, then disconnect the internet from the system immediately. Disconnecting from Wi-Fi or ethernet cable will ensure that prevent data from getting transmitted to the cybercriminal. It can minimize further damage assuming that no data will get transferred before the attack was discovered. If one discovers an online attack while working on the system, the user should immediately inform the IT department. The IT team can prevent the infection from spreading in the network and protect personal and company information from getting compromised. If damage is done, then the IT department can help recover the data from the backups stored. 

Scan your Device

It is mandatory to install antivirus software on the system to prevent attacks. Antivirus and anti-spy software are the best tools to protect against cybercriminals. Installing one right away will be the necessary step to avoid any malicious attack. If one already has security, then running periodic diagnostic scans can help to find if the system is infected or not and remove any threats if found. 

Data Backup 

Regular backups of data are a must. 

A malware aims to either attack the system, decrypt the data for ransom money or steal them, which can later get distributed or sold off on the dark web for monetary gains. 

Suppose the attackers do not encrypt back the data irrespective of whether the ransom amount is received or not. In that case, there are high chances files or data can be destroyed during the recovery process. The best way is to have a backup in separate external devices. 

Monitoring online behaviour

Practicing risky online behavior by clicking on every link you come across on a website or in an email can prove dangerous. There are chances that they will be attacked by the malware disguised in these links or websites.  

The learning lesson after an attack would be to practice safe surfing on the net and avoid clicking emails from unknown or suspicious senders. 

Reinstall operating system

Some malware is highly sophisticated and uses rootkit techniques which means they can hide deep in the system and go unnoticed despite having antivirus software. The best way to be sure that the system is cleansed is by reinstalling the operating system. One may not be aware of the date when the attack occurred. Therefore, it is better to format the system, reinstall the OS, reload the backup files, and start afresh. 

Close all accounts 

If one is a victim of online fraud or identity theft, one must immediately close the affected accounts. It will minimize the damage or prevent it entirely before the attacker can access them and cause damage. The victim should contact the bank or credit cards service provider and inform them about the fraudulent transaction. Necessary steps to recover are filing a complaint with the cybercrime cell and notifying the insurance company of damage claim under a cyber insurance policy. 

Setting up alerts on frauds and credit reports

Setting up a fraud alert by limiting credit card usage with controls can help users contain damage in an identity theft attack. One can also check credit scores to see if there can be any impact on fraudulent transactions and inform the consumer credit rating agencies for corrective action based on the complaints file with the concerned authorities.   

Additional steps 

Once bitten twice shy. Victims of malware attacks can take the following steps to protect themselves from online threats, like creating a combination of alpha-numeric passwords and having more than six digits. One can also use different passwords for different service providers to limit damages in future attacks. Organizations can have regular training of employees, ensuring better password management and online behavior with strict avoidance of unsecured public Wi-Fi networks. The cybersecurity team can implement the IAM (identity access management) program to allow access to data only to those authorized by the IT policy of the organization. 

Final Takeaway

Online risks are common, and ransomware attacks have gone up tremendously over the past few years. While one cannot control cybercriminals, one takes the necessary steps to protect the system and network by following the best practices. Protecting multiple devices is easy nowadays with security software solutions. Check out the security solutions software, the best solution for devices and activities. 

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