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Under Attack? Get to Know the Different Types of Malware

published 9/2/2020

In the past year alone, over seven billion malware attacks were reported. Malware can inflict an incredible amount of damage to your computer system, and it's spreading at a terrifying rate.

The best way to protect yourself against any unforeseeable system damage is by learning about the different types of malware out there. Keep reading to learn more about what you're up against in cyberspace, and how to avoid it.

What Exactly Is Malware?

Malware is short for malicious software. You can think of it as evil software if that helps. Malware is typically written by software programmers with the intention to steal or damage the information on any given computer system. Those software programmers are more affectionately known as hackers and they're here to exploit any vulnerable information you have.

Hackers usually exploit your personal information or your client's private data for money. Once they've hacked into your system and obtained the information, they'll use it as leverage. They'll threaten to delete it, use it as blackmail by making it public, or by selling it to the highest bidder on the dark web.

There's a whole slew of different types of malware. Depending on the type of malware, hackers can attack your PC, Mac, tablets, smartphones, and any other smart device you have. They're capable of attacking you via email, text message, or by manually integrating their malware into your system.

The Most Common Types of Malware

From adware to rootkits and phishing scams, there are plenty of different types of malware to worry about. Below are the most common types and how they spread.

Viruses

Hackers design their viruses to target computers and smart devices by corrupting data. To accomplish this, they'll have their viruses reformat your hard drive or completely shut down your system. Viruses are also used to steal your information, create botnets, ruin your computer or network, steal money, or manipulate advertisements.

Most computer viruses require the person on the receiving end to "invite it in." That means you're likely to get hit with a malware virus via email attachment or internet download.

Worms

A worm is an independent and self-replicating form of malware. Hackers like to use worms target and exploit operating system vulnerabilities. Because they're self-replicating, they can spread incredibly fast over several computer networks at a time, without any human intervention.

Since they spread fast, worms are generally used to carry out what is called a "Payload." A Payload is a piece of code written specifically to damage a network's system. Payload codes can delete files on your system, encrypt data to open the door for ransomware, steal private information, and create botnets.

Spyware

Spyware is sneaky hence the name. It can be installed on your computer without your knowledge, and you wouldn't know that it's there until a threat is made or you've been efficiently monitoring your gateways.

The design behind spyware is meant to track your internet activity. Namely, your browsing habits. In addition to monitoring your internet activity, spyware also memorizes keystrokes, collects the information from logins, your financial data, and any other online account information you may have.

Spyware spreads by exploiting software vulnerabilities. It's capable of attaching itself to the software in your computer or smart device system and it can bundle itself with Trojans.

Adware

Adware is named for the fact that it's an "advertising software." And an aggressive one at that. It'll put unwanted and unnecessary advertisements all over your computer screen.

Adware was also designed to collect your data and it tends to redirect you to other advertising sites. It can also change your browser settings, your default browser, homepage, and search settings. There is such a thing as legitimate adware, which will ask your permission before collecting your data.

People typically pick up adware through their browser's vulnerabilities. So, if you like to download stuff from the internet, beware. The adware will also sometimes try and trick you into downloading it by using a pop-up window to claim that you need a new plugin. Always ignore those.

Ransomware

Thanks to the invention of ransomware, cybersecurity crimes are expected to become a six trillion-dollar per year business by 2021. Since ransomware generates the most cashflow for professional hackers, it's the most talked-about type of malware. It's also the most evil.

Hackers use ransomware to hold your data and private information for ransom, demanding money for it to be released back to you. It works by restricting user access on your computer. This is achieved by either encrypting the files on your hard drive or completely locking down your entire system.

Once the ransomware has a stranglehold on your life, the hacker will display a message across your screen with their demands. Those demands are usually "send X amount of money to Y account and we'll release the restrictions and unlock your access." Once you pay, your entire system and its settings go back to normal

Trojan Horse

The Trojan Horse, aka "Trojans," works exactly as you'd think. It enters your system disguised as something else usually a seemingly harmless file. That file is meant to trick you into downloading and installing it. Once you do that, you give the hackers access to your system.

Hackers like to use Trojans to steal private data, upload more malware, manipulate your files, steal financial information, destroy files and precious data, and monitor your activity. They also carry out denial of service (DoS) attacks on web addresses they wish to target.

If Trojans end up bundled with a worm, they can tag along when that worm self replicates. That gives them an endless network to destroy.

Protect Yourself Against Malware

There are many more types of malware out there, but the ones listed above are the most prominent and threatening. Malware attacks are only going increase and technology grows and we become more reliant on it. Protecting yourself against attacks means implementing the right security measures.

We can help you with that. Contact us today to learn more about our services.