In this world, for every good, there is always evil to destroy it. In movies too, you will definitely find an antagonist fighting against the protagonist. Likewise, in the computer world, the antagonist is Malware.
Malware is a broad term used to define the different malicious programs or codes designed to exploit the computer systems, networks, or any other programmable devices such as IoT based devices. The term malware is actually short for Malicious Software.
A malware program can infiltrate into your device without your knowledge to extract private data, financial data, hack the network, or simply damage the system. So, in general, the malware programs are intended for performing various illegitimate tasks for different gains. But what does a particular malware such as ransomware or spyware do?
We will find that out!
Is Malware and Virus the same?
Many people, even in the IT field, reciprocally use the terms virus and malware, but technically they are not the same. A virus is actually a type of malware. In the older times, the only malware was the virus, but when the varieties of malicious software increases, the cybersecurity experts started referring them all with the broader term – malware.
However, in the mind of the common people, any malicious program that harms their system is still a virus because they are unaware of the other technical terms. But the fact is, all viruses are the malware, but not all malware are the viruses.
Common Malware Types and What do they do
Malware programs are of several types, all designed to perform the particular maligned task. No matter which type, all malware programs follow the basic pattern: getting into the victim’s device without any suspicion and silently working on its goal for which it was made.
The thing that differentiates the types of malware is what malicious tasks they perform and what model they follow to do that.
Let us find that out.
A computer virus is basically designed to replicate itself and use the system’s computing power to put the load on it and eventually shut it down. It can also spread in the other systems through means such as Pendrive, sd cards, hard disks, network, etc. Some viruses can also act as the delivery agent for additional malware like trojans or spyware. The traditional threats, such as shortcut virus that you might have experienced on your older devices, are all viruses.
The trojan is another popular infection that most people have experienced or are familiar with. Its name is based on the ancient Greek story in which intruders enter the king’s palace in a gifted horse model.
Similar to that story, the trojan malware takes control of the victim’s device by presenting itself as a useful, legitimate program. After the victim installs it, the trojan gets activated and silently works in the background conducting various malicious activities such as deleting, modifying, blocking, and copying the data by giving the backdoor remote access to the cybercriminals. A trojan can also steal your banking information and download the other malware programs on the system. Further, some trojan programs are also used for the DDoS attacks on the targeted websites by sending multiple service requests simultaneously, thereby bringing down the server.
After entering into the victim’s system, ransomware would lock all the files and folders with a strong encrypting algorithm and ask the ransom from the victim in return for the decrypting key or tool. So basically, a ransomware attack is similar to a real-world kidnapping crime.
As its name suggests, a spyware program is intended to work silently in the background for collecting the confidential information of the victim and relaying them back to the cybercriminals. Most commonly, the spyware tracks the internet activity of the victim, the login credentials, banking cards number, and others. Using those information, the cybercriminal can conduct banking fraud and identity theft. Spyware is quite difficult to detect and that is what makes it more dangerous.
While browsing the internet or using an application, if you are unintentionally redirected to the random malicious websites, then it is the work of an Adware program. Adware is meant for involving the victim in the advertising network in order to generate revenues.
If the default homepage and search engine of your browser keep changing on its own, without your intervention, then your browser must have been hijacked by the Browser Hijacker or the redirect virus. After entering your system through bundled software or malicious web extensions, the browser hijackers first take control of the browser’s settings. The main aim of the browser hijackers is to illegitimately promote the affiliated webpages for the revenue generation. Further, since it has the control of your browser, it can collect various browsing information and introduce other malware in the system.
Technically a botnet is not a malware, but in fact, a network of malware carrying systems. First, the attacker attacks a few systems using malicious ‘bots.’ These bots further infect other devices and add them to the network. The botnet can be used for carrying out many illegal activities such a using the collective computation power for cryptocurrency mining, sending spam emails to thousands of users at the same time, carrying out DDoS attacks, and much more.
Protecting Your Devices From Malware
Till now, you have known that there are several types of malware programs intended for different purposes and can harm your system in many ways. However, the good thing is you don’t have to take specific measures to protect your system from any particular malware type.
By practicing the following tips, you can prevent any kind of malware attacks.
- Always quip your system with an allrounder, robust security solution, and regularly perform a full device scan.
- Mostly every malware programs take advantage of the vulnerabilities of the system to attack it. Therefore, it is highly recommended to update your apps and system regularly, as an outdated program is highly vulnerable and a potential gateway to the malware.
- Follow healthy browsing practices while online. Avoid opening the unknown, suspicious links and email attachments. Do not go for the unverified freeware download.
- Get your favorite apps and games from the verified and originals sources. Do not get in the trap of discounts or free offers.
Different malware programs work on different purposes that define their damage level. Malware programs can be highly dangerous as they can spy on you, lock your files, steal your information, and can even damage the system permanently.
Malware programs such as Spyware, Browser Hijackers, and others are meant to steal confidential information from the system or track the victim’s activities.
Though every malware is hazardous to the system in its own way, the most dangerous malware type is Ransomware, as it is almost impossible to get rid of its infection. Other notably deadly malware types are trojan and spyware.