The Russian Mob is Not Your Friend: In Other Words, Why You Need Anti-Virus Software

Sep 30, 2021 | Uncategorized

This is the second in a 5-part series examining simple ways to protect your data from data breach and data loss without costing an arm and a leg. Part 1 of the series can be viewed here. These posts come from material that we present in our “Protecting Your Data” seminar for businesses. The presentation also has 1 hour of CLE credit from the Alabama Bar Association. Contact us to schedule a presentation or to find out when one is being offered.

The Problem

Viruses and malware have come a long way. It used to be that viruses were created for destruction. When your computer contracted one, the virus would do its best to destroy the information you had on your computer. One day, however, someone had the bright idea to turn this into a business, and the modern malware plague was born.Malware can take on many forms. We will discuss robots, key loggers, and ransomware.


The most common type is where your computer is turned into what’s called a zombie or robot, which means that someone elsewhere (a remote master) can control your computer. When this happens, your computer becomes a member of a “botnet”. The masters can either use your computer for their own nefarious purposes and/or even rent it out to others.Common nefarious purposes include:

  • Using your computer to participate in a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) (this is when a website is flooded with “hits” to overpower the website, so people cannot access it)
  • Sending out spam emails, possibly from your email address
  • Creating a vector out of your computer for hacking attempts on corporate or governmental entities

Key Loggers

Another common type of malware is a key logger. This is a piece of software that stays on yourcomputer and as the name suggests, records all your keystrokes. This means that they can figure out usernames and passwords for things such as bank accounts or email, or anything else you type out. In addition to bad guys doing this, this type of software is also often installed by jealous significant others in attempts to catch cheating partners.


Another increasingly common type of malware is ransomware. Ransomware will encrypt your system and then demand payment in a set time frame in order to unlock it again. Generally speaking once you pay they will, in fact, give you the means to unlock it, as this is a business for them and if you don’t pay then others won’t pay. However, you don’t know what else they’ve done to your computer and there is no guarantee they won’t hit you again. Therefore you should only pay unless you have no other choice, for instance, if you aren’t regularly backing up your computer. The best solution here is to reformat your hard drive(s) and start over with a good back up copy.

Data Mining

Malware also will commonly mine your computer for information the bad guys can use. This can range from information to steal your identity to corporate information they can use or sell to your competitors. Malware is also even used by governments in an ongoing cyberwar to gain access to military or other secrets.

The Solution

Running one, high-quality anti-virus program helps mitigate the risk of getting an infection. If you have more than one AV program installed, you are not actually protecting yourself any better. The programs will battle it out for resources and priority and will slow down your system, possibly even missing items they would normally catch because they are too busy fighting each other. Think of it as two siblings in the back seat of a car on a really long car trip, before iPads and handheld devices. They are too busy annoying each other to notice anything happening around them.Something to remember though is that anti-virus won’t make you bullet proof. Think before you click. Don’t open email from unknown sources or follow links without considering the risks. Use known good links for ALL the sites that require you to log in. If you receive a message that appears to be from your bank or other site that will require a log in, don’t use the links in the email to connect but use the saved links that you know are good. There is a constant struggle going on between the people who create the malware, and the people who try to stop it. Therefore you should not engage in high-risk behavior. This can include downloading coupon bars/programs, downloading screen savers (they are almost ALWAYS malware), emoticons, or similar things. Just like in other parts of life, you aren’t going to get anything for free, and when you try in the cyber world you often get a fun new virus on your computer.