Software possesses the intelligence part of the computer system, but this intelligence is not the guarantee that it will bear only sweet fruits. It takes same amount intelligence to perform something that is constructive or destructive. Same truth implies on software as well. Malware is the term used for any software that is designed with malicious intention.
Malware is a malicious software program that is designed to harm computer user. Malware includes not only computer viruses but also worms, Trojans and spyware programs equipped to harm computer by performing different harmful activities like stealing personal or sensitive information, encrypting data, deleting important data, altering functionalities of a computer, hijacking core functionalities of a computer system thus making computer system un-usable, or monitoring the activity of a computer user without their permission. That is not all modern malware programs can do little more than what we think malwares can do.
Malware is the term that was first used in 1990 by Yisrael Radai a computer scientist and security research expert. Malware did existed much before it was in around 1971 when one of the first known malware was born – “the Creeper virus”. This malware was created by BBN Technologies engineer Robert Thomas. This malware by the name of “Creeper” was designed to infect mainframes on network ARPANET.
Types of Malware
There exist different types of malware programs or software that contain distinctive characteristics and features. All of them impose different types of threats and also function distinctively from one another. Different types of malware include:
Virus – common threat
The term virus we all have heard about – name being borrowed from the biological virus it resembles to, is the most common type of malware.It is defined as malicious software that is capable of executing itself and it spreads itself by infecting other programs or files on the computer system. To spread itself it needs a host program.
Worm – another malicious software program
It is yet another type of malware or malicious program designed to harm computer users. Worm can also self-replicate itself like virus. To do that it doesn’t require a host program to replicate itself. This malware program typically spread and doesn’t require any human intervention or any directives from the authors of malware programs.
Trojans – threat in disguise
Another malware, Trojan horse is a malicious program that is quite dangerous. Trojans are designed to appear as a genuine and authentic program from trusted source and user installs it or clicks on the malware link. Once this malware is activated after installation process, these Trojans can execute their malicious tasks or functions that are of harmful nature.
Spyware – you are not safe
How you will feel, if you find out someone is spying on you. Spyware is another type of malware that is designed to do the same. It is capable of collecting information and data related to user and selectively observe their activity and that too without the knowledge of a user.
Ransomware – another threat
This malware program is little new on the block as compared to others. Malwares seen so far, you must have observed include functions or features that are designed for a specific purpose. This malware known as ransomware, is designed to infect your computer system and encrypt the data. This malware encrypts data to make it un-useful for the data owner. Cybercriminals, who planted this malware, then demand a ransom payment from the victim. The victim then has to pay the ransom in exchange for getting their system’s data decrypted back.
Rootkit – Full control on your system
This is yet another malware on the list, known as rootkit. It is a type of malware that is designed harm you by having a full control on your system. Rootkit is capable of obtaining administrator-level access to your computer system. Once installed, this piece of malware program gives threat actors root access or privileged access to the computer system.
RAT (Root Access Trojan) – backdoor for other malware programs
If you are not scared then have a look at this one. This malware is a backdoor virus known as Remote Access Trojan or simply RAT. It is malicious software that secretly creates a backdoor into a system that they infect. This Trojan then allows the threat actors to remote access this infected system without alerting the user or the system’s security programs.
Few other similar threats
Malware is a blanket term used for all such software programs that are designed to harm others. Every next day these software programs are getting smarter and are getting equipped to find new ways to get into your system and open up backdoor for vulnerabilities. There are still few other types of malicious programs with malicious intend as malwares discussed above, but are still quite distinctly different.
Adware – Malicious, might not be that harmful
These software programs might not harm you to that extent but just annoy users with unwanted advertisements. These malware will continue popping ads on your screen thus degrading the performance of your device or system. Adware by themselves might not be considered as malwares, still there are cases where adware can impose harmful threats. These web ads can easily be used as a tool by threat actors and turned into mal-advertising threats. Some adware can contain spyware-like features that collect information, such as browsing histories and personal information, without user’s permission.
PUP – Unwanted programs
A PUP that stands for Potentially Unwanted Program is not a malware at first place. PUPs can trick users into installing them on their systems. These could be for example browser toolbars, or some extensions once installed don’t execute any malicious functions but may harbor spyware-like functionality or some other hidden malicious features.
How malware works
Malware developers use and keep on inventing new ways to spread malware and infect devices and networks. These malware programs can be planted physically to any system through a carrier like USB drive or any other means. These malicious programs can spread via the internet when you download something where unknowingly or willingly give consent to automatically download malicious programs.
They might get installed or activated when you visit a malicious website. Phishing attacks are quite common type of malware attacks, emails are often disguised as authenticate messages and might harbor malicious links, emails might have malware programs as attachments thus delivering the malware executable to innocent users.
Malware are getting smarter with you
It is observed that malware developers are consistently developing new methods to include new dodging and mystification techniques that are designed to fool users. These users can be novice users and even experts like security administrators. These malware can even fool antimalware products also.
Technology is good and essential for progress.Technology means tools and intelligence driven society and you can’t stop this technology from getting into the hands of people with mal-intention. What one can do is learn well before adopting any technology and use all prescribed instructions that are necessary for not getting fooled by these malware programs. Use original software programs and keep them updated. Be careful while browsing or downloading.