There are many different types of malware, all of which have malicious intentions. It helps to have a good understanding of the kinds of malware are out there and how you can protect yourself.
What is Malware
Malware, or malicious software, is a term that describes any kind of malicious computer program that is harmful to systems. The primary intent of malware is to invade and damage computers, tablets, mobile devices, systems, and networks, usually by controlling the device’s normal functioning. There are many different motives behind malware use- it can be about making money, sabotaging your ability to carry out your business, or even making political statements. Malware has the ability to encrypt, delete or steal your data. It can hijack your computer functions and spy on your activities without your permission and knowledge.
The History of Malware
The concept of malware as we know it today didn’t start with a program. Like most things, it started with a vision. In 1966 the mathematician Jon von Neumann wrote and paper about the ‘theory of self-reproducing automata.’ The article speculated that it would be possible for a mechanical organism, such as the computer code, to damage machines by self-replicating and infecting new programs, just like a biological virus.
Five years later, in 1971, Bob Thomas of BBN built the Creeper, regarded as the first computer virus. Creeper had no malicious intent and was actually designed to test if a self-replicating program was possible. And it was. With each new hard drive infected, the Creeper displayed a message: “I’m the Creeper. Catch me if you can.”
Around the same time, to remove the Creeper, another program was created, named the Reaper. Reaper was also able to spread through the same systems, but it would delete Creeper when coming into contact. Interestingly, only a short time after creating the first computer virus was the first antivirus was also made.
It wasn’t until 1982 when the history of modern viruses really began with a program called Elk Cloner, which infected Apple systems. Spread by infected floppy disks, Elk Cloner itself was not malicious, but it spread like wildfire. It is considered the first extensive computer virus outbreak.
The early viruses were designed as a nuisance for the most part. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the mischief had warped into harmful intent.
The Different Types of Malware
Like genuine software, malware has advanced over time and can embody various functions, mainly depending on the attacker’s goals.
What is Trojan
Trojan is considered one of the most dangerous types of malware. Typically, it presents itself as something useful but actually does the opposite. Trojans can be in the form of downloads, attachments, videos, and other fake programs. Once the Trojan is on your device, the cybercriminals have unauthorized access to your device, and from there, they can steal your data or install other forms of malware.
What is Emotet
Emotet is a kind of malware initially designed as a banking Trojan to steal financial data, but it’s evolved to become a significant threat to users everywhere.
What is Ransomware
Ransomware is malware that locks you out of your device, encrypts your files, and then requests a ransom to restore access.
What is Ryuk
Ryuk is not only the name of a fictional character in a popular Japanese comic book. It is also one of the most dangerous types of ransomware. Ryuk is ransomware used in targeted cyberattacks, where the criminals ensure that the files are encrypted to ask for large ransom amounts.
What is TickBot
TrickBot is a banking Trojan that steals your financial details, such as account credentials and other personally identifiable information. It is usually spread within a network and by ransomware, mostly Ryuk.
What is a Computer Virus
A computer virus is a malware that is attached to another program or document, which replicates itself and spreads after a primary execution on a target system. Computer viruses are usually harmful and can destroy your data, slow down system resources, and log your keystrokes.
What is Spyware
Spyware is a form of malware that quietly sits on your device, monitors your activities without your permission, and reports them to the attacker. It often steals sensitive information, such as your bank details and passwords.
What is a Keylogger
Keylogger secretly records all your keystrokes on the keyboard. The information is then gathered and sent to the attacker, who typically wants to get your data, such as your bank details or passwords. It is worth noting that some employers also use keyloggers to watch their employees.
What is Cryptomining
Cryptomining, also known as cryptojacking, is an increasingly widespread malware typically installed by Trojan. This malware lets someone else to use your device to mine cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. The cryptominer sends the coins into their own account instead of yours. They are essentially stealing your resources.
What is GandCrab
GandCrab is the kind of ransomware that encrypts your files and demands a ransom payment in order to regain access to your data. GandCrab targets consumers and businesses, typically with computers using Microsoft Windows.
What is Rootkit
Rootkit gives the attacker admin privileges on the infected system. This is also known as the ‘root’ access. Rootkit is usually designed to remain hidden from you, other programs on the system, and the operating system itself.
What is a Computer Worm
A worm is a similar malware to a computer virus. Like the virus, the worm can self-replicate. The main difference between the two is that the worm can spread across the systems independently, while the virus needs some sort of human interaction to initiate the infection.
What is Adware
Adware is a type of malware that lurks on your device and throws advertisements on your screen. Some adware also monitors your online activity so that it can target you with specific ads. Adware typically uses malicious tactics to disguise itself as genuine or piggyback on another program to coax you into installing it on your device.
What is Malvertising
Malvertising is malicious advertising that uses advertising to distribute malware with very little and sometimes no human action required. While you are browsing the Internet, even legitimate websites, you can be directed to malicious servers without even clicking on the malicious ad. These servers then gather data about you, your device, and your location before selecting the best-suited malware, which is often ransomware.
How is Malware Delivered
There are many ways malware can attack your device, but most commonly it’s delivered through the Internet and email. Essentially, any time your device is connected to the Internet, you are vulnerable.
Malware can enter your device when you visit hacked websites, view a legitimate website that has malicious ads, download files that are infected, install programs or Apps from an unfamiliar source, open malicious email attachments, or anything else that you download from the Internet on to your device. You must remember that even if you install an App from a credible source, you still must pay attention to the permission request – you could be installing a bundled software you don’t want. These extra unwanted programs are often presented as necessary components, but often they are not.
While it is possible that you can get infected by simply visiting a website and viewing a malicious banner ad, if you are not running a good anti-malware program, the infection and its repercussion are on you.
The Future of Malware
Malware has been a part of our lives for many years; however, what was once cyber mischief has warped into cybercrime. Trojans, viruses, and ransomware are all evolving. Cybercriminals are more motivated and intelligent than ever, always ready to push boundaries to invent new infection methods. While we can never say for sure what will happen in the future, one thing is certain. Malware will continue to advance into more powerful and dangerous structures for as long as we have computer systems in our lives.