What Is Malware & How to Detect Malware?

What Is Malware?

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What Is Malware

Malicious Software or Malware is a harmful code or software that is specially designed to damage, disrupt, or illegitimate action on data, hosts or networks. Malware can be a virus, worm, trojan, adware, spyware, rootkit, etc.

Once installed on your computer, these programs can seriously affect your privacy and your computer's security normally for the benefit of some third party, without the user’s permission. For example, malware is known for relaying personal information to advertisers and other third parties without user consent.

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Malware cannot damage the physical the hardware of systems and network equipment, but it can damage the data and software residing on the equipment.

How malware works?

Malicious programs can be delivered to a system with a USB drive or can spread over the internet through drive-by downloads, which automatically download malicious programs to systems without the user's approval or knowledge. 

Phishing attacks are another common type of malware delivery where emails disguised as legitimate messages contain malicious links or attachments that can deliver the malware executable to unsuspecting users.

Types of Malware –

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Types of Malware

  • A computer virus is malicious software that self-replicates and attaches itself to other files/programs.
  • A virus is a program that creates copies of itself and inserts these copies into other computer programs, data files, or into the boot sector of the hard-disk. 
  • Once a program virus is active, it will infect other programs on the computer.
  • A worm is a type of malware which leaves a copy of itself in the memory of each computer in its path.
  • Worms spread over a network and are capable of launching a destructive attack within a short period.
  • After a worm affects a host, it can spread very quickly over the network.
  • It  is  designed to appear as a legitimate program to gain access to a system.
  • Hackers make use of trojan horses to steal a user’s password information, destroy data or programs on the hard disk.
  • A Trojan horse varies from a virus because the Trojan binds itself to non-executable files, such as image files, audio files.
  • Trojans usually arrive via email or are pushed on users when they visit infected websites. 
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  • Spyware secretly records information about a user and forwards it to third parties.
  • Spyware is also known for installing Trojan viruses.
  • Spyware collects information and sends it to the hacker.
  • Ransomware grasps a computer system or the data it contains until the victim makes a payment.
  • The user has to pay a ransom (price) to the criminals to retrieve data. Once the amount is paid the victim can resume using his/her system.
  • A rootkit is a software used by a hacker to gain admin-level access to a computer/network.
  • Rootkits are a set of software tools used by an intruder to gain and maintain access to a computer system without the user's knowledge.
There are three types of rootkits.
  • Kernel Rootkits - hide a backdoor on a computer system by using modified code to add or replace a portion of the system's existing kernel code.
  • Library Rootkits - hide information about the intruder by manipulating system calls with patches, hooks, or replacements.
  • Application Rootkits - replace or modify regular application binaries with camouflaged fakes, hooks, patches, or injected code.
  • A backdoor virus or remote access Trojan (RAT) secretly creates a backdoor into an infected system that allows threat actors to remotely access it without alerting the user or the system's security programs.
  • A backdoor bypasses the usual authentication used to access a system.
  • It displays pop-up advertisements when you are online.
  • It is used to track a user’s browser and download history with the intent to display pop-up or banner advertisements.
Keyloggers –
  • Keylogger records everything the user types on his/her computer system to obtain passwords and other sensitive information and send them to the source of the keylogging program.
Logic Bombs –
  • Logic Bomb is programmed threats that lie dormant for an extended period until they are triggered.
  • Once triggered, a logic bomb implements a malicious code that causes harm to a computer.

How to detect malware?

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How to Detect Malware

If they observe any unusual activity such as a sudden loss of disc space, unusually slow speeds, repeated crashes or freezes or an increase in unwanted internet activity and popup advertisements.

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How to Prevent Malware?

  • Ensure the operating system and applications are up to date with patches/updates.
  • Install anti-virus software.
  • Install firewall.
  • Ensure you scan and update the antivirus programs regularly.
  • Never open strange e-mails, especially ones with attachments.
  • Always enable and use security features provided by browsers and applications.
Anti – Malware Software
  • Microsoft Security Essentials
  • Microsoft Windows Defender
  • AVG Internet Security
  • Spybot - Search & Destroy
  • Avast! Home Edition for personal use
  • Panda Internet Security
  • MacScan for Mac OS and Mac OS X

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