Malware is a commonality in today’s computing environment, though businesses do everything in their power to avoid encountering it. Some people have difficulty identifying threats, which makes for a dangerous situation whenever they actually have to handle them. We’ve put together a malware guide that will help your employees identify the most common types of threats out there, as well as how to respond to them.
To get the most out of this guide, print it out and give it to your staff as a handy reference.
A computer virus is perhaps the most recognized term for malware. A virus is a malicious piece of code that can replicate and disperse itself without the person who released it getting involved further. This makes it a devastating weapon for hackers that can target organizations of all industries and sizes. Viruses are commonly attached to files or applications that the intended victim will download.
Worms are another self-replicating threat that have been around longer than viruses. If a system is infected, a worm can cause all sorts of trouble. Additional malware can be transferred into a system, and system memory can be used up to create problems. It’s possible that communications can be cut, too. Email is an effective way of spreading these worms, as all it takes is someone clicking on the wrong email attachment to spread onto a network.
Spyware is mostly used by cybercriminals who want to create bigger issues down the road. This malware gives hackers the ability to bypass a system’s security by monitoring the user’s actions, recording credentials, and browsing their behaviors. Keyloggers are one of the most well-known variants of spyware, as they secretly record a user’s keystrokes to steal credentials and other important data. Spyware can also eat up CPU resources to make it even more vulnerable to other threats.
Adware is a piece of malware that can fool users into clicking on forged advertisements. These ads might redirect users to malicious websites or initiate malicious downloads.
Cybercriminals also like to hide their attacks behind legitimate advertising networks. They can pay for ad space and hide code within the ad, bringing users to a malicious site that can install malware onto the user’s system. These scripts can turn systems into cryptomining puppets or install Trojans and ransomware.
Like its namesake, a Trojan Horse threat will hide its malware attack in what seem to be legitimate programs. These are common because they are easy for a novice hacker to pull off, in addition to providing an easy way to execute social engineering attacks. Once the user activates the program, the payload will be delivered, making things even worse.
Ransomware is a threat that is on the rise, as it can target businesses, healthcare organizations, and even municipalities or individual users. Ransomware encrypts data on an infected system, locking the user out and keeping them from accessing important information. The user is then given a message that explains how to unlock their data, which includes paying a ransom using cryptocurrency in exchange for the decryption key. Many victims never get the key, regardless of payment, meaning that in the event you fall victim to ransomware, be sure to contact your IT resource to discuss your options for recovering from this incident.
The logic bomb is a digital land mine that lies dormant in your system until a specific event triggers it. A logic bomb can damage a computer, occasionally causing even physical damage to components. Logic bombs can overwork certain pieces of hardware, like hard drives or cooling fans, to cause catastrophic damage.
A backdoor is more of a mechanism that allows for an attack, meaning that a criminal installs a backdoor on your device to make the system vulnerable at a later date. Backdoors are used to keep access to a system long after other vulnerabilities are patched, and they are most effective when users have let their guard down.
A rootkit is what gives hackers the ability to create a backdoor. Hackers can modify systems using software vulnerabilities, leaving ways open in the targeted system.
A botnet is a network of infected devices that can execute a task at the whim of a cybercriminal. A botnet can be as large as hundreds of thousands of devices, such as computers, smartphones, and Internet of Things devices. Using the collective power of these bots, a botnet can become a major threat through the use of a distributed denial of service attack.
Fileless malware is on the rise, and it’s all thanks to its ability to manipulate the device’s random access memory, or RAM. This malware can then spread using encryption keys and APIs, as well as cause problems by altering user privileges or abusing admin tools.
If you’re ever unsure if your technology is under threat, be sure to reach out to Microtechs at (415) 246-0101.