What is Malware?
Malware has been around since the 1980s. It has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, owing to our increased reliance on computers & networks. Malware is a generic term that refers to any software or executable programme with malicious intent (Malicious Software). It can result in having your private information stolen for monetary gains or cause corruption & loss of your computer data. Cliché, but the phrase “prevention is better than cure” applies when it comes to keeping yourself safe from Malware.
Today, most malware target Windows Operating Systems (OS) as it is widely used. Interestingly though, the very first computer virus discovered was on a Mac in back 1982, named the “Elk Cloner”.
Who creates Malware?
Professional & talented programmers and developers are to thank for the latest, ingenious software, applications, games that we use today; but they’re also the ones who have created malware. It takes a lot of practice, creativity & skill to launch software that can affect data systems all around the globe.
Money motivates most hackers – they can profit by directly stealing credit card & personal data or reselling this information to black markets online. Others, do it for self-esteem and to prove that they can.
Let’s look at the most common types of Malware & how they can infect your computer.
Common Types of Malware
There’s no question ransomware has become a prolific threat. Most of us would have heard of the latest Ransomware – WannaCry. The campaign spread globally on 12 May 2017, causing widespread panic and paranoia. Read more about it here. Just like its name, Ransomware is named as such because the hackers will restrict the victims’ access to their files – threaten to delete the files, publish them, or leave them encrypted unless a ransom is paid. Ransomware is often disguised as legitimate files (Trojans), such as official software updates or email attachments. Once executed, the malware encrypts your data and renders your files inaccessible until the ransom demands are met.
Worms make use of existing computer networks to infect multiple devices. On their own, worms do not cause damage or loss of data to computers, rather, they degrade the performance of your network. They can be combined with other types of malware, using the worm portion of the malware to spread the infection to other computers.
Trojans usually disguise themselves as legitimate and useful software to gain your trust. They require someone to install the file before it can operate. Once installed, a Trojan can give hackers complete control of your computer – from monitoring your online activities, learning sensitive personal information & even access to your offline data files.
Rootkits are designed to stay hidden in your system, while allowing you to continue to use your computer. They are nearly undetectable, making them very difficult to remove. Once a rootkit is installed, the attacker will have complete access to your computer, including taking timed screenshots, view what you do in real-time, enable keylogging and more. The only way to remove a rootkit would be to completely reformat your computer.
A virus is a program designed that takes unauthorised control of a computer. Viruses require a person to take action before it gets released. In most cases, such actions involve opening an executable file (.exe) with viruses attached. Some viruses cause small annoying problems on your computer such as constantly altering your desktop wallpaper. Others are capable of greater damage such as a destroying & causing a complete loss of data.
Like software, bots can have good or malicious intentions. A malicious bot spreads across the Internet by searching for unprotected systems to infect. Once a system has been infected by a bot (usually stays hidden until instructed to carry out a task), it can carry out various automated tasks. Bots can log keystrokes, gather passwords, financial information, launch DoS attacks, relay spam and more.
If you would like to find out more about how to protect your network, please contact our enterprise security experts at firstname.lastname@example.org