Malware is a portmanteau of the words malicious and software. It refers to any software or code specifically designed to infiltrate, damage, or exploit computer systems, networks, or devices without the user’s consent. Malware comes in various forms, each with distinct objectives and methods of operation.
Related glossary terms;
Also relates to our Gooroo Technical Services computer repairs services page.
In Detail! Malware
The non-TL;DR version;
Common Types of Malware
- Viruses – Malicious code that attaches itself to legitimate programs and files, replicating and spreading throughout a system upon execution.
- Worms – Self-contained programs that spread across networks without user intervention, consuming bandwidth and other resources.
- Trojans – Malware disguised as legitimate software, tricking users into downloading and installing it.
- Ransomware – Malware that encrypts user files, demanding a ransom for decryption and access restoration.
- Spyware – Software that collects sensitive information from a user’s device, such as passwords and financial data, without their knowledge or consent.
- Adware – Unwanted software that displays intrusive advertisements and may also collect user data for targeted advertising purposes.
- Rootkits – Stealthy malware that provides an attacker with privileged access to a system while remaining hidden from users and security software.
Current Techniques Malware Uses to Infect
Modern malware employs various techniques to infiltrate and infect systems, including:
- Social Engineering and Phishing – Tricking users into clicking on malicious links or downloading infected attachments by posing as legitimate entities.
- Drive-by Downloads – Exploiting vulnerabilities in web browsers or plugins to automatically download and install malware upon visiting a compromised website.
- Malvertising – Injecting malicious advertisements into legitimate ad networks to spread malware through seemingly harmless ads.
- Exploit Kits – Automated tools that scan for and exploit vulnerabilities in software, allowing for malware infection.
- Fileless Malware – Malware that resides in a computer’s memory rather than on its hard drive, making detection and removal more difficult.
A Brief History
- The Earliest Forms of MalwareThe history of malware can be traced back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. One of the earliest known forms of malware was the Morris Worm (1988), which exploited vulnerabilities in UNIX systems and inadvertently caused significant damage due to a programming error.
- Evolution of MalwareOver the years, malware has evolved significantly, adopting new strategies and techniques to infect systems and evade detection. The rapid advancements in technology and the internet have only served to fuel this evolution.
Malware remains a persistent and evolving threat, with cybercriminals constantly devising new strategies and techniques to infiltrate and exploit systems. To protect against malware, it is crucial to maintain up-to-date security software, apply software patches promptly, and practice good cyber hygiene, such as being cautious with email attachments and avoiding suspicious websites.