Information Technology

The Complete Guide to Malware

What is Malware?

Malware is a type of software program that can be used to harm computers and networks. The most common malware programs are viruses, spyware and worms .Shorthand for malicious software, malware typically consists of code developed by cyber attackers, designed to cause extensive damage to data and systems or to gain unauthorized access to a network. Malware is typically delivered in the form of a link or file over email and requires the user to click on the link or open the file to execute the malware.

What is the history of malware?

The term “malware” was coined in the late 1980s. The first malware were viruses written in the assembly language. At that time, the term “virus” was already well-established in the community of computer specialists, so there was a need for a term that would reflect these newly discovered threats. “Malware” is a hybrid word that combines the word “malicious” and the word “software”.

“Software” refers to the fact that malware is a program that is executed. Malware is a computer program or code that is designed to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems. The word is a combination of malicious and software. Malware is categorized as a form of computer virus.

However, malware is distinguished from viruses in that malware is meant to be destructive or disruptive, while a virus typically only replicates itself. Malware is a general term used to describe any type of software that is installed without the computer owner’s consent. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware and other malicious programs. Malware is often used by hackers and cybercriminals to gain access to computers, personal files, information and networks. Malware can spread across entire networks, which is why it’s so important to protect your computer, your business and your customers. Many of our customers make it a top priority to keep their businesses safe from cyber attacks. In the past, that required countless hours of monitoring files and inputting passwords manually, but today software like Citadel can protect your business from the ever-present risks of cyber attacks.

How Does the Malware Work ?

Malware isn’t just a nuisance. Malware can be dangerous, especially if you’re not aware of what it can do, that means clicking a link, opening an attachment, or visiting an infected website. Once on your machine, the malware’s payload begins the task it’s designed to perform stealing your data, encrypting your files, installing additional malware, and so on. Once you’ve been compromised, the malware can do a lot of damage. That’s because it takes control of your machine and its operating system, not to mention a bunch of powerful tools. Malware can run from the hard drive to your browser cloud-based applications like Office 365 and Google Drive have their own forms of malware or on a USB stick. Potentially even your smartphone. If you haven’t been paying attention, the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software is a great tool to keep virus and spyware out of your system.

What are the Different Types of Malware?

Malware is a type of malicious software that can damage the computer system or steal data from the computer. Malware is used to infect a target computer system with malware, which may be used in an attempt to gain unauthorized access to the target system. Malware can work in a way that makes it difficult for the user to detect.

Here are some of the most common malware attack types:

  1. Viruses.
  2. Ransomware.
  3. Worms.
  4. Trojans.
  5. Spyware.
  6. Adware.
  • Viruses : Viruses are a subgroup of malware. Viruses are a serious threat to computer systems. They can damage them by corrupting data or files, and they can even spread through email attachments, Word documents, and other forms of communication. A virus usually comes as an attachment in an email that holds a virus payload, or the part of the malware that performs the malicious action. Once the victim opens the file, the device is infected. A virus is malicious software attached to a document or file that supports macros to execute its code and spread from host to host. Viruses can propagate rapidly and spread from computer to computer without the need for human interaction or an active network.
  • Ransomware : One of the most profitable, and therefore one of the most popular, types of malware amongst cybercriminals is ransomware. . Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts files on the victim’s computer and requires users to pay a ransom to have their decryption key restored. Ransomware can be distributed in different ways, e.g. via phishing emails, P2P file sharing networks, or by using auto- infections . Ransomware has the capability to propagate in a very fast and efficient way, neither the victim nor the ecosystem are made aware of its existence even in case of successful infection. Ransomware is commonly part of a phishing scam. By clicking a disguised link, the user downloads the ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that can be generated by hackers, who want to take money from individuals or companies. The ransomware encrypts data and sends it to the attackers after a certain period of time.
  • Worms : A worm is a computer virus that attempts to replicate itself and infect other computers. A worm is often compared to a virus because all it needs is a source of data, a computer with which to communicate and an opportunity for replication. A worm is an executable program that can spread across different systems. When a worm infects a computer, it doesn’t just spread automatically across the network. It also needs some action from the user in order to propagate further. A worm infects a device via a downloaded file or a network connection before it multiplies and disperses at an exponential rate. Like viruses, worms can severely disrupt the operations of a device and cause data loss.
  • Trojans : Trojan viruses, disguised as helpful software programs, are on the rise. Their aim is to steal personal information, such as credit card numbers and ID numbers ,sensitive data and then modify, block, or delete the data. Trojan viruses are malicious files that are designed to replicate themselves and spread further. This can be extremely harmful to the performance of a device as they may spread on partitions and rewrite files to access other data on the system. Once up and running, they then can steal personal data, crash a device, spy on activities or even launch an attack.
  • Spyware : Spyware is an adware program that secretly observes the user’s activity without permission. It reports its findings to the software’s author who can then use the information to take further actions. A typical spyware is used to monitor all the communication from the target device. It can be installed on any device including PCs, smartphones, etc. It can record phone calls, listen to conversations and even monitor emails. Spyware is usually found on the desktop, but it might also be installed on the phone’s memory.
  • Adware : Adware is malicious software that can be used to collect your personal data and make you spend money on advertising. It is possible that adware may be used by malware programs or spyware to damage your computer. Adware programs are often installed on a computer without the consent of the user. They make use of unwanted online advertisements, pop-ups and more to take money from the users. Adware is a type of software that doesn’t do anything useful, but just wants to make your computer slow as hell and waste your time. Adware can be installed on your system by an infected website or by an adware program that gets installed alongside other programs. Because not all adware is malicious, it is important to have protection that constantly and intelligently scans these programs.

How can I tell if I’ve been infected with malware?

The presence of malware in a system is a measure of its security. Unfortunately, there are ways to detect if your system has been infected by malware.

The most common signs that your computer has been compromised by malware are:

  • Your computer slows down : One of malware’s side effects is to reduce the speed of your operating system (OS), whether you’re navigating the Internet or just using your local applications, usage of your system’s resources appears abnormally high.
  • Your system crashes : This can come as a freeze or a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), the latter occurs on Windows systems after encountering a fatal error. A crash is much more than a BSOD. A crash can be catastrophic to the IT infrastructure that runs on it, and very often leads to server downtime, data loss and downtime of critical services.
  • Your antivirus product stops working : Your antivirus product stops working and you cannot turn it back on, leaving you unprotected against the sneaky malware that disabled it. The virus has changed its tactic and infected your machine in ways that don’t appear to be obvious.
  • Browser redirects, or when your web browser takes you to sites you did not intend to visit .
  • Infection warnings, frequently accompanied by solicitations to buy something to fix them.
  • Problems shutting down or starting up your computer.
  • Frequent pop-up ads.

CXO's Journal

I'm a self-taught hacker, I do a little bit of everything: hacking (security), cryptography, Linux system administration, networking/routing and virtualization/hardware/software development. I'm a freelance IT Support Advisor, providing IT support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
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