In this day and age, there are unfortunately various kinds of cyber attacks that individuals and organisations are vulnerable to. SonicWall reported 10.52 billion malware attacks in 2018, and while malware sites and new malware variants have been in decline since 2017, this may be due to the changing nature of attacks. The first half of 2019 saw a 15 percent increase in ransomware attacks, and a 105 percent year-on-year increase in the Cerber family of ransomware. Based on this increase, it’s no surprise that 40 million Cerber attacks were reported by SonicWall in the first half of 2019.
With a continued rise in cybercrime of different types, businesses of all sizes are recommended to take every cyber security measure available. An IT security company can help defend against threats, as well as providing a range of other IT services to keep your business thriving.
What is malware?
Malware, or malicious software, is any kind of software that is designed to damage a computer system. This intentional harm of malware differs from a software bug, which is the result of an error. It usually comes in the form of code that execute actions to corrupt files on a computer or network. Malware can be used for a number of criminal purposes, such as accessing sensitive data, or destroying entire networks.
Relative to other forms of malware, adware is not serious or damaging, and it can be removed quite easily by taking out the malicious executable. Adware programmes deliver users unwanted adverts or redirect them to promotional web pages while browsing the internet. This is used to generate revenue through advertising or pay-per-click functionality. At worst, adware is an annoyance for internet users, though it may also slightly limit functionality.
Bot & botnet
While bots can be used for a number of harmless internet activities such as for online auctions or contests, they are also used maliciously. Bots are ordered to execute tasks by the creator of the programme that they are infected with. Collections of bots grouped together are known as botnets, and these can be used as spambots, or web spiders, to distribute malware or in DDOS attacks. CAPTCHA tests are used to safeguard against bots pretending to be humans.
A newer form of malware that is difficult to detect because it doesn’t rely on files or executables, fitness malware hides in memory storage systems from where it executes events. It can be written into the RAM of a computer and then will spread computing objects, like APIs or encryption keys, which are infected. After the whole computer has become infected, the administration tools can be taken over so the malware can be passed across networks.
Hybrid attacks are when malware is comprised of various types of malware. An attack may appear to be a trojan from the outset, but then begin to spread like a worm. Bots may also gain access to a vast set of computers through another type of malware. This kind of attack can be extremely dangerous and damaging because they can be sophisticated enough to deceive security systems.
Ransomware is the type of malware that demands a ransom in order to return a computer system or network to a functional state. It spreads very quickly throughout organisations, networks and countries, and encrypts files to make them inaccessible. For the files to be decrypted, ransoms are usually asked for in cryptocurrency. If this is not delivered the files are destroyed, making this type of malware among the most devastating.
Rootkits are designed to gain access to a computer system to execute files, modify configurations, adjust software, access or steal information, install malware, or control the system. Rootkits are known for their stealth in escaping detection by security programmes. Protection against rootkits often needs to be carried out manually, such as monitoring for irregular activity, storage dump analysis, and signature scanning.
The kind of malware that gains access to systems to spy on the files and behaviour, is known as spyware. This kind of monitoring could include collecting keystrokes or the data harvesting of logins and financial data. Spyware can also be used to disable firewalls or anti-malware programmes, and interfere with network connections. Data collected by spyware can be used by hackers or sold for profit.
A trojan horse, or trojan, is malware that is disguised as an ordinary file or programme to deceive users. This allows the malware to execute various attacks that harm data, steal information, or disrupt functionality. Trojans are often received through email attachments or downloads that appear legitimate. They can give hackers remote access to a computer, allowing them to access, modify or steal data, install malware, among other harmful actions.
One of the oldest types of malware, viruses are those which are capable of replicating and spreading without the need for specific commands. They can spread through documents, files, or scripting vulnerabilities in web applications. Without quarantine or remediation, they can infect computers and spread across an entire network. They can be used to steal data, cause damage to networks, or create botnets.
Worms are common forms of malware that self-replicate and spread over networks without end-user action. They exploit system vulnerabilities and cause damage to host networks by using up bandwidth and burdening web servers. Worms can be a strain on communication tools, they can consume system memory and spread additional malware. Worms typically spread through emails that infect a computer and whole network when the email is opened.
With a wide range of malware types, many of which are growing in number, the message to computer users is clear: a high level of security is absolutely necessary. While the damage caused by many forms of malware is minimal, in some cases it is irreparable. We all have a great deal to lose, so protection should be at the maximum.