A file becomes corrupted when malicious code, also known as malware, is inserted into the file. All types of software files are at risk of this type of corruption, from word processing documents to spreadsheet files to images. Corrupted files are distributed to victims through email or by a malicious or hacked website. When the corrupted file is downloaded and opened, the malware is spread. Corrupted software files can be more than an inconvenience. These files can also infect your computer, affecting its overall performance and potentially leaving you vulnerable to identity theft.
Attackers leverage the vulnerabilities present in commonly used software to spread malware, which may be a virus, Trojan horse or worm. Viruses can damage files, programs and operating hardware. A Trojan horse is a software program that appears to be legitimate, but can actually damage files or lead to data theft. Worms are software programs that are designed to replicate themselves and spread throughout a network, overwhelming capacity and causing individual computer or complete system crashes.
Corrupted files might delete or alter existing files on a computer – or they could install new, undesirable files. Malware can destroy data or permanently damage a computer or system. It can also give the cyber attacker access to your computer – a security risk that could result in identity theft and financial loss.
Some corrupt files target older versions of software. When users fail to update software, they leave themselves at risk. Others target users who will download files from an email or the Internet without knowing whether the sender or website can be trusted.
While everyone is potentially at risk, you can reduce your exposure to cybersecurity threats. Implement these simple solutions to protect yourself and your computer from corrupted software files:
When it comes to malicious attacks on networks or individual computers, cybersecurity experts will tell you there is no perfect way to stay ahead of hackers. However, following these common-sense tips and best practices can drastically reduce your risk. Cybersecurity training also goes a long way to protecting individuals and organizations from the growing threat of corrupted software files and other cyber attacks.