Cyber threats are becoming increasingly prevalent and dangerous in today’s hyper-connected world. Among the most insidious and destructive of these threats is Malware. From viruses and worms to Trojan horses and ransomware, there are different types of Malware, each with its unique characteristics and capabilities.
So, whether you’re a seasoned cybersecurity professional or just starting to explore the world of cyber threats, this guide has something for everyone.
Let’s dive in and explore the fascinating and frightening world of Malware.
Malware: A Brief Overview
Malware is short for “malicious software,” a term that describes a wide range of malicious computer programs, including viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, and worms.
Malware can infect computers and steal information or damage a system’s files. It can also be used to hack into computers or networks by capturing keystrokes and other user activity that is then sent back to the hacker.
Malware can be used for various purposes, including:
- Stealing personal information from users (such as social security numbers, credit card information, or passwords)
- Stealing money from online bank accounts
- Sending spam emails
- Installing other types of malware attacks on your computer, such as keyloggers and remote access tools (RATs), can be used to control your computer remotely.
Related Read: What Is Malware?
What Are the Common Types of Malware?
Every year, businesses face heightened risk, and the criminals responsible for this increase their ability to evade capture by constantly updating their software. For instance, while there were only 28.84 million malware variants in 2010, by 2020, there were approximately 678 million.
Malware comes in a variety of forms, including:
1. Computer Viruses
Computer viruses attach themselves to other programs, such as Microsoft Word or an email program, and replicate themselves by inserting copies of themselves into other documents and programs. They can also spread from one computer to another over a network.
A worm is a program replicating itself to spread from one computer to another. Unlike a virus, however, it does not attach itself to other programs or files on your computer. Instead, it travels through the Internet searching for vulnerable computers, installing itself on those systems, and replicating.
Worms usually cause more damage than viruses because they multiply quickly and easily.
Ransomware locks your computer’s screen and demands payment for unlocking it. The most common form of ransomware is CryptoLocker, which encrypts your files and demands a ransom to unlock them. If you pay this ransom, there’s no guarantee that your data will be unlocked — or that the scammers won’t keep asking for more money.
Related Read: How To Recover from a Ransomware Attack?
Spyware tracks your browsing habits and sends that data back to the people who installed it on your computer. Some spyware can even steal information like passwords and credit card numbers.
Spyware can come bundled with other software, or you might install it yourself by clicking on an ad or downloading free software from unreliable websites.
5. Trojan Horse
A Trojan horse is malicious software that masquerades as useful or legitimate. When you open an email attachment containing a Trojan horse or click on a Web link leading to one, you allow the Trojan horse access to your computer — sometimes without even realizing it until it’s too late!
The most common types of Trojan horses are:
- Keyloggers, which record everything you type on your keyboard.
- Bots (short for robots), which hackers use in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
- Password stealers.
- Remote access tools (RATs).
6. Banking malware
This Malware targets online banking accounts and steals login details to access them. It can also gather information such as passwords and PINs that can be used in other attacks.
7. Cryptojacking malware
Cryptojacking uses your computer’s resources to mine cryptocurrency. This type of Malware often uses the same ports as other programs to hide among legitimate traffic.
A type of Malware that hides in the background and keeps itself from being detected by antivirus programs. Rootkits are difficult to remove because they can change themselves as you try to remove them.
9. Fileless Malware
Malware that doesn’t install files on your hard drive but instead uses other parts of your system or network to carry out its tasks. This makes it harder to detect because there aren’t any files on your computer to find and delete.
Software designed to deliver advertisements on your computer or mobile device without your knowledge or consent. Adware has nothing to do with advertising networks like Google AdSense
How To Prevent Different Types of Malware?
Here are some tips for preventing different types of Malware:
Keep Your Software Up-to-date
Install security updates as soon as your software vendor releases them. The more up-to-date your software is, the less likely it is to be infected with Malware that exploits those vulnerabilities.
Use Antivirus and Anti-malware Software
Antivirus and anti-malware programs can help prevent infections from known viruses, worms, and other malicious software. They can also detect and remove spyware and adware.
Be Cautious of Email Attachments and Downloads
You should avoid opening attachments unless you trust the sender. If you receive an attachment that appears to be from someone you know but is unexpected, notify them before opening it.
Don’t Click on Suspicious Links or Pop-ups
Many malware attacks begin with a seemingly harmless email or text message that contains a link to a website that looks legitimate but isn’t. If you’re unsure whether a link is safe to click, don’t take the risk — go directly to the website by typing the address into your browser’s address bar instead.
Be Careful With Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks can be risky because they need to be secured, and personal Wi-Fi networks at home or work. If you use public Wi-Fi networks regularly, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, which encrypts your internet traffic between your device and the VPN server.
Enable Email Authentication to prevent the spread of malware via emails
Email authentication helps prevent the spread of malware via emails by verifying the sender’s identity and ensuring that the email has not been tampered with during transmission. There are several email authentication methods that can be used to achieve this, including SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a protocol that allows domain owners to specify which IP addresses are authorized to send emails on behalf of their domain. When an email is received, the recipient’s mail server can check the SPF record of the sending domain to verify that the email came from an authorized server.
DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is another email authentication protocol that allows the recipient to verify that the email was sent by the authorized sender and that the message has not been modified in transit. DKIM uses a digital signature that is added to the header of the email, which can be verified by the recipient’s mail server.
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is a protocol that builds on SPF and DKIM to provide an additional layer of email authentication. DMARC allows domain owners to specify how to handle emails that fail SPF or DKIM checks, such as marking them as spam or rejecting them outright.
By implementing email authentication methods like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, organizations can ensure that only authorized senders can send emails from their domain, and that emails are not tampered with during transmission. This helps prevent the spread of malware via emails by reducing the likelihood of fraudulent emails and phishing attempts, which are often used to distribute malware.
Staying Informed and Staying Safe: A Final Word on Understanding Types of Malware
The world of Malware can be scary. However, with the right knowledge and tools, you can protect yourself and your devices from the harmful effects of malicious software. By understanding the different types of Malware and how they operate, you can take steps to prevent attacks before they happen.
It’s important to take cybersecurity seriously in today’s digital age. By following the tips and information outlined in this guide, you can help keep yourself and your devices safe from the damaging effects of Malware. So stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay safe!