5 Most Common Ways That Malware Spreads

The origins of what we now call a computer virus date back to 1949, when one of the most important scientists of the twentieth century, John von Neumann, presented an article called “The Theory and Organization of Complicated Automata”, in which he demonstrated that a computer program was in able to reproduce autonomously.

Malware: Types And Techniques Of Diffusion.

Over the years, in addition to ascertaining the veracity of von Neumann’s theories, the dangers associated with the computer world have evolved, and today terms such as viruses, trojans, and ransomware have become very popular in computer terminology. But how is this software different? We know the main malware and what characterizes them.

What Is Malware?

The word malware is given by the contraction of the words ” malicious software “, and indicates any program used to disturb, damage or access without permission to one or more devices.

Through this software, an attacker can perform acts that have more or less impact on the affected user: from the theft of sensitive data to their elimination, from checking the device to its damage, etc.

Some Malware That Made History

  • WannaCry is ransomware created to extort money from its victims. Passed to the news in 2017, for having knocked out over 200 thousand PCs in 4 days, WannaCry spread thanks to a large number of outdated Microsoft Windows operating systems.
  • CryptoLocker is another ransomware that still yields record revenues to those who use it. This malicious software affects Windows OS and encrypts documents on the computer making them inaccessible. Read http://spin.ai to protect your Company’s devices from malware attacks.
  • Mydoom, on the other hand, is part of another type of malware: worms. Detected in 2004, it is today the fastest-spreading worm by email, with an estimated damage value of $ 40 billion, and victims of the likes of Google and Microsoft (Mydoom nearly 20 years later).

Types of Malware

While there are many variants of malware today, the 10 most common are:

  1. Virus: It is a type of malware that, when attached to a program or file, takes effect only when the host is started. This malware can cause serious damage to the system, allowing its users to corrupt or steal its data, hindering its efficiency, increasing its maintenance costs
  2. Worms: Unlike viruses, worms do not need to be activated by programs to spread. The speed of replication and propagation is extremely high. A worm can cause various types of damage, including modifying or deleting files, replicating itself until a system runs out of resources, and installing a backdoor to facilitate hackers’ access.
  3. Trojan: Masquerading as a legitimate file, such as viruses, this malware also needs a host to function. Unlike the previous two, however, they are not designed to self-replicate. Even if they are not born to spread, trojans can spy on our devices, access our network, and act freely on our data.
  4. Ransomware: Mentioned in the examples of WannaCry and CryptoLocker, this malicious software enters our system and denies us access to our files, until a ransom is paid (usually in cryptocurrencies). Especially used in phishing scams, its spread is lightning-fast
  5. Keylogger: This malware is used to monitor and record every key pressed on the keyboard. With this tool, also available on smartphones, hackers can steal credentials, credit card numbers, PINs, etc.
  6. Spyware: although they also manage to record what is typed, this malware is potentially less fatal than the previous ones. Easier to get rid of, spyware is still an inconvenient host, as it collects user information or directs you to specific content to make a profit
  7. Adware: with this malware the hacker aims to display specific advertisements to obtain revenue. On its own, it is little more than annoying, but when combined with Spyware it also becomes a potential danger to our data
  8. Rootkits: This malware can be some of the hardest to find and remove. They allow unauthorized access to hackers, then take control of the device and do what they want with it. Designed to sneak into legitimate system files, antivirus often don’t detect them, and sometimes it’s virtually impossible to remove them, other than by formatting or replacing some parts of the hardware
  9. Fileless malware: This malware uses legitimate programs without the need for “ad hoc” files. Very difficult to find, they leave no trace of their activity on the hard drive, making it resistant to checks by the protection systems, which is why they are one of the most difficult and fastest-growing threats
  10. Bot: is how a computer infected with malware (also called zombies) is defined, often used to be part of a network of infected computers (botnet) capable of triggering massive attacks such as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service)

Always One Step Ahead

We have seen a series of 10 malware, which have long been the cause of many headaches for individuals and companies around the world.

And if the bad news is that the list of malicious software is much longer, the good news is that there is a set of practices that help keep you from getting on the list of hacked companies.

Everything starts with awareness. Having a good knowledge base that allows us to recognize different types of threats can make the difference between being in control and being at the mercy of events.

How Does Malware Spread?

The access doors to our systems are different: phishing via e-mail, infected USB keys, malvertising, and many others… more generally, there are at least 5 triggers that we can list.

  1. Social engineering: it is the first aspect to work on, people as the main culprits for the entry of dangerous software or incorrect behavior
  2. Systems vulnerabilities: “simple” outdated software can be a bomb ready to go off
  3. Backdoor: a door left open in software or hardware, is one of the simplest and most used ways to access our systems
  4. Privilege escalation: the incorrect configuration of what a user can do within the network is also a serious error that can involve high risks
  5. Mixed techniques: today many malware combines a series of functions that make them even more unpredictable, so that a “simple” Trojan can be combined with capabilities typical of other malware, and thus make it more difficult to detect

Minimize The Risk

The increase in the number of malware and its rapid development is making life difficult for anyone online, so first of all we need to improve our knowledge of the subject.

Today, we are called to recognize the potential risks we face, and consequently, the behaviors that open the doors of our systems to cybercrime. Knowledge, prevention by using high-quality data protection tools, and 24/7 monitoring are the keywords to allow our company to thrive in the most optimal conditions.

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