What is Malware?

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    Malware is a joint term used to describe any malicious code or program that is harmful to systems. Shorthand for malicious software, malware comprises of code developed by cyber attackers with the intent to cause damage to data and systems or to have unauthorized access to network systems. The developers of malware use different channels to spread and infect devices and networks. Malicious software can be transferred physically to a computer through removable storage like a USB drive.
    Since the 1970s, malware has been a threat to individuals and organisations because it is easy to propagate. Every computer or networks system is vulnerable to different types of malware.
    What can malware do?
    Malware executes their purposes in different ways. It can be programmed to demand ransom, deny users access to a resource, steal information. Attackers are inventing sophisticated methods to launch their malware.
    Types of malware
    Like its name, spyware is a malicious program developed to spy on user activity. It installs itself in the computer and starts to monitor your behavior without your knowledge or permission. It secretly gathers information about an individual or organisation and delivers this data to other parties. Spyware can collect sensitive information like username and passwords, and credit card details.
    Worms get their name because of the way they invade and infect computer systems. It is a type of malware that replicates itself from one computer to another. It can replicate itself without any human interaction and does not have to attach itself on particular software to execute outs malicious act.
    Worms are transferred via software vulnerabilities or in emails as attachments. Once the software or spam mail is opened, they automatically download the worm to the computer. Upon installation, the worm starts infecting the computer without user knowledge. Worms are detected when their uncontrolled replication consumes a lot of system resources slowing down the computer processing speed.
    Virus is the most familiar type of malware written to change the way a computer operates and is designed to spread from a computer to another. Viruses attach themselves to legitimate software and wait for a user or an automated process to execute them. This means a virus can stay dormant on your computer without any indications of its presence. However, after infecting a single computer, it can affect other computers in the network.
    Computer viruses work like biological viruses because they spread rapidly and widely, causing significant damage to the fundamental functionalities of a system. Viruses can corrupt files and obscure users from accessing their computers.
    Also known as Trojan horse, a Trojan is a malicious software developed by attackers to appear as legitimate software but with the aim or gaining access to target user systems. Victims are deceived by some form of social engineering and lured into executing Trojans in their systems. Upon activation, a Trojan can give cybercriminals the permission to spy, gain backdoor access to your system or to steal sensitive information from your computer. Unlike worms and viruses, Trojans do not self-replicate.
    Trojans are divided according to the type of activity they can do in your computer:

    • Trojan downloader: This malware can download and install new versions of malware onto your computer including adware and Trojans.
    • Trojan dropper: These types of malware are used by attackers to install Trojans or viruses to prevent the detection of harmful programs. Many antivirus applications do not detect dropper s as harmful hence they are used to install viruses on computers.
    • Ransomware: It is a Trojan that encrypts the data in a computer. The attackers who control these malware demand ransom for them to release the decryption key.
    • Trojan-Banker: They steal account-related data related to online banking and card payments.
    • Trojan-backdoor: This is a common type of Trojan that creates a backdoor to give cybercriminals the ability to access a computer later remotely using a remote access tool (RAT).
    • Trojan-Rootkits: These Trojans prevent the detection of malware and harmful activities on the computer. They are complex malware that gives control over the victim’s device. Rootkits also enrol the victim’s device as parts of a botnet.
    • Fake AV Trojan: This Trojan presents itself as legitimate antivirus software but demands money from you to scan and remove threats either real or fake.
    • Adware: An advertising malware is a type of malware that delivers advertisements automatically on your screen often within a web browser. It presents an unwanted advertisement via intrusive or dangerous methods.

    Very educative article.

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