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What is Malware?

Malware is an abbreviation for malicious computer software. Cybercriminals use viruses, worms, trojan horses, and other malicious computer programmes to gain unauthorised access to computer systems and data under the umbrella term “malicious computer programmes.”

Regardless of the technology used to create malicious software, malware is defined as any programme that causes damage to a computer, server, or network.

Key Takeaways

The term “malware” refers to any computer programme that is designed to exploit systems, gain unauthorised access, or steal data.

Malware is classified into several categories based on how it spreads, such as a worm, virus, or trojan horse.

There are several ways to classify malware based on their activities, such as spyware, adware, rootkits, and ransomware, among others.

Hackers can also manually install malware on a target’s computer by gaining physical access to the device.

Malware can be detected with the help of a signature-based tool such as SIEM.

Types of Malware?

Malware can be classified into several categories based on how the malicious software spreads and operates on the computer system.

The following are examples of common malware types, which are distinguished by the manner in which the malicious programme spreads:

  • Worms: A worm is a malicious programme that is self-replicating and capable of moving from one target to another without being detected.
  • Viruses: A virus is harmful software that infiltrates the code of a legitimate standalone programme and causes it to malfunction. A virus forces the standalone programme to perform malicious actions as a result of the virus.
  • Trojan horses: A trojan horse is a piece of code that pretends to be something the victim wants and tricks them into clicking on a malicious link that causes them harm. A trojan, in contrast to a worm, is incapable of reproducing itself.

According to the way the programme operates, the second type of malware is classified as follows: We have the following types of people under this category:

Other Ways Cybercriminals Distribute Malware

  • spyware: this type of malware collects information from unsuspecting users in a covert manner. A spyware programme monitors the behaviour of victims as they interact with their devices and exchange information. Spyware typically forwards logs to a third party for further investigation and action.
  • Rootkit: A rootkit is a programme or a collection of software tools that allows hackers to gain remote access to and control over the systems and computers of their victims. A rootkit, as the name implies, allows an attacker to gain root access to a target system and exercise administrator-level control over it.
  • Adware: This malicious programme forces users’ browsers to redirect to unsolicited web advertisements with download links, which are displayed on the screen of the computer.
  • Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your computer files and then demands a payment in exchange for the decryption key to be released. Hackers demand a ransom in cryptocurrency in order to avoid being identified and traced back to them. Bitcoins provide anonymity because they do not require legal names or addresses for the purposes of converting money to the currency, sending it, or receiving it.
  • The practise of cryptojacking involves malware infecting devices and using CPU resources to mine Bitcoin without the user’s permission. The malicious programme makes use of the computer’s processing power and memory to mine or steal cryptocurrency.

Other Ways Cybercriminals Distribute Malware

In order to spread malware, hackers use phishing emails to trick people into opening them. The attackers use this distribution method to trick victims into opening an attachment or visiting a malicious website link by sending them an email with a convincing subject line. By opening the malicious PDF, ZIP file, or Word doc, users risk having their entire data encrypted or the malware spreading to other computers on their network.

Remote Desktop Protocols: A hacker can also use the remote desktop protocol to gain access to computers that have unprotected ports open.

Websites that have been compromised: Bad actors can use compromised websites to distribute ransomware to victims through the use of vulnerable software downloads.

Manual Installation: Hackers can manually install malware on a target device if they have physical access to the computer where the malware is to be installed. In addition, attackers can use privilege escalation to gain access to a remote administrator’s computer or network.

Malware in Mobile Devices

Malicious programmes can target mobile devices, granting cybercriminals access to the device’s components, such as its files, camera, GPS, microphone, and contacts, as well as its location and other information. When a user downloads an unofficial application from the Google Playstore or a vendor’s website, their phones become infected with malware.

Through the use of a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection, attackers can also spread malware to mobile phones.

How to Detect Malware

You can use a variety of tools to scan and monitor the activity on your network. Installing a security information and event management (SIEM) system will allow you to collect, analyse, and provide insights from computer and application logs, among other things.

You can detect malware on your mobile device by looking for signs of increased data usage, calls, texts, or emails being sent to your contacts without your knowledge, and a rapidly dissipating battery, among other things.

How to Prevent Malware

Make sure you understand how to recognise spam and phishing emails, which are used by hackers to spread malware.

Install an antivirus, antispyware, or antimalware product to help detect and neutralise viruses, worms, and trojans before they cause damage.

Maintain the patching and updating of your systems.

Maintain an inventory of all of your information technology assets so that you can identify what you need to assess and protect.

In the event of a ransomware attack, make regular backups of your systems and files to ensure timely incident response and business continuity.

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Evangeline Christina is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cyberspecial.net. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter in a reputed news agency.