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The Hidden Cybersecurity Threats of Corrupted Software Files

By University Alliance
The Hidden Cybersecurity Threats of Corrupted Software Files

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.

How Corrupt Files Work

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.

Precautionary Measure to Defend and Protect Yourself

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:

  1. Use a Firewall: A firewall allows access to trusted programs and websites, while acting as a barrier against hackers.
  2. Update Software: Keep software up to date with security patches. Many packages and operating systems offer automatic updates, for greater protection.
  3. Check Your Security Settings: Use the highest level of security offered by your email provider and Internet browser that also allows for the functionality you need.
  4. Use Caution When Downloading From the Internet: Avoid downloading from websites you don’t trust. On sites you do trust, always check the website’s certificate.
  5. Don’t Open Unexpected Email Attachments: If you receive an email with an attachment that you’re not expecting, or from someone you do not know, don’t open it, or scan it for viruses first. Remember, hackers often make emails appear to come from one of your contacts or will use your contacts’ computers to spread viruses.
  6. Install and Maintain Anti-Virus Software: Anti-virus software is designed to detect and remove a virus before it can do damage. Keep yours up to date to guard against new attacks.
  7. Use A Spam Filter: Spam filters block emails that could contain malicious content or links that lead to malicious websites.

Protect Yourself from Cybersecurity Threats

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.

Category: Cybersecurity & Information Assurance