In recent years, malicious software, or malware, has persistently been causing widespread destructions throughout the UK. Not only businesses are being affected by cybercrime, but in 2017 the National Health Service was hit by the so-called WannaCry ransomware attack, which led to delays in medical procedures and an inability to accept new patients in different facilities, including within hospitals. In this case, the NHS was not specifically targeted, instead, it failed to patch software despite an important update being flagged. This is a crucial mistake as acknowledged weaknesses are open doors for hackers.
What is Malware?
The name malware can easily mislead people into thinking that it is a specific type of virus or hacking tool. Instead, it is a general umbrella term for any type of software that exists to disrupt, interfere, or misappropriate files, data, or other computing power.
There are so many different types of malwares that it is unknown how many specific strands of malware exist. However, it is possible to group them into approximate categories, based on what their intended outcome is.
By gaining a better understanding of the different types of malware, you will be better equipped to identify malware and protect your business against it.
What Are the Different Types of Malware?
Contagious, or Self-Spreading Malware
One of the most well-known types of malware are viruses and worms, as they were some of the earliest malware to be created. University students were experimenting with code to test their own skills and inadvertently discovered ways that can be used to exploit the computer of end-users. As the internet developed and businesses and banking use cases were identified, financial motives led to people creating viruses.
A computer virus can be transmitted between computers hidden inside or attached to a file or program. Viruses cannot spread on their own, meaning a user must engage with the software to trigger the spread of the virus to other computers.
Viruses have a range of effects, such as interruption functionality. Some cause damage to particular file types, while others can contribute to DDoS attacks on remote targets. Files can be deleted, modified, or corrupted.
Worms cause similar types of damage as viruses but are able to replicate themselves in different ways. Where a virus has to rely on a file to carry it on to the next victim, a worm is able to travel independently by exploiting the same routes that regular files take when they are sent between workstations.
Worms can use existing file-transfer routes to spread to other computers and exploit known software vulnerabilities. Many worms arrive via a hidden attachment in emails or even through instant messaging apps. Alternatively, fraudulent emails can include malicious links which when opened automatically download a worm.
Viruses and worms share a common trade in terms of the outcome of an infection. Alongside the effects mentioned, viruses can also self-replicate intensively leading to a system overload or overloaded network. These types of attacks can take down entire networks very quickly. Worms on the other hand can act as simple backdoors, opening network access to hackers enabling them to do as they please.
When it comes to malware, there are two types of concealment-focused techniques. They do not cause damage themselves, but they are able to help different types of malware enter your system undetected.
A Trojan is named after the ancient wooden horse full of hidden soldiers and is used to make malware look innocent while concealing destructive files within. Trojans often masquerade as software or applications that are being downloaded innocently by staff. Once it is on the system, it allows the concealed malware to activate, which can cause a variety of problems for the business.
Rootkits work differently than trojans. They do not conceal malicious code within them but instead act more like an invisible cloak. Rootkits obscure traces of malware from antivirus software to make sure they are overlooked and left to continue stealing data or whichever task is left incomplete.
If you notice any of the following symptoms when using a networked computer, it may have malware operating behind the screen. Worms, for example, are particularly adept at causing problems.
– Decrease in speed performance: Malware can use a lot of processing power, so if programs keep crashing or lagging unusually, make sure to contact your IT support.
– Decreased storage space on your drive: When malware self-replicates it consumes the free space on your drive, so if you notice an unexplained full drive, malware might be the reason why.
– Strange new files: Malware can create, delete, and replace files, so make sure you watch out for unusual file names or data saved in unexpected places.
If you are interested in finding out more about malware and ways to protect your devices or you are looking to take on an IT provider, contact us here. We currently offer a free IT consultation, so don’t forget to fill out our IT Workplace Assessment, so we can come back to you with our recommendations.