Malware is malicious software that cybercriminals use to infect a victim’s device. Cybercriminals use malware to gain control of the device, damage it or steal sensitive information. They use different types of malware to infect and exploit a user’s device. Some common types of malware include ransomware, Trojans, spyware and keyloggers.
Continue reading to learn more about these types of malware, how they get delivered and how to stay protected from them.
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their sensitive data by encrypting their files and locking them out of their devices. The cybercriminal then contacts the victim and promises to return access to their encrypted data after they have paid a ransom. Once the ransom is paid, the cybercriminal says they will return access to the victim’s sensitive data, often giving them a decryption key.
However, cybercriminals do not always keep their end of the deal and may not give the victim back access. Instead, they sell the sensitive data on the dark web even after the ransom has been paid. Often, cybercriminals will also retarget the victim for future ransomware attacks since the victim has shown a willingness to pay a ransom.
Trojans, also known as Trojan horse viruses, are a type of malware that infiltrates a user’s device by disguising itself as legitimate software. Named after the Greek myth, Trojan horses trick users into secretly installing malware on their devices. Once installed, Trojans can grant backdoor access to the infected device, install other types of malware, spy on users and steal sensitive information. They spread using social engineering tactics such as phishing and spoofed websites that prompt you to download a malicious file or software.
Spyware is a type of malware that is secretly installed on a victim’s device to spy on them and gather their sensitive information such as login credentials and credit card numbers. Cybercriminals deliver spyware by exploiting security vulnerabilities or hiding it in Trojans. Once installed, spyware gathers information by tracking the victim’s keystrokes, recording their browsing history or using the device’s camera and microphone to watch and listen to them.
Once the sensitive information has been collected, the spyware will then transmit that information to the cybercriminal using the device’s internet connection. The cybercriminal can then use the sensitive data for malicious purposes such as selling it on the dark web, taking over accounts, stealing money or committing identity theft.
Keyloggers are a type of spyware that track a user’s keystrokes as they type. They are not inherently malicious as they can be used to monitor an employee’s activity. However, cybercriminals can use keyloggers to record the keystrokes of the victim for nefarious purposes such as obtaining their login credentials and other sensitive information.
Adware is a type of spyware that tracks your web activity and displays personalized pop-up advertisements based on your activity. Although adware is not inherently malicious, it can be annoying as it can slow down your device’s performance and constantly display unwanted ads. Threat actors can use adware to collect and sell your data to third-party advertisers without your consent. Some adware can display malicious ads that trick you into installing more harmful types of malware.
A rootkit is software that gives cybercriminals remote access to a victim’s device with full administrative privileges. Cybercriminals use rootkits to remain undetected on a device for as long as they can by using administrative privileges to turn off security settings and grant backdoor access. While undetected, the rootkit can steal sensitive data from the device and allow other types of malware to infect the device and damage it even further.
A botnet is a network of infected devices, known as bots, which are controlled by a single attacking party called a bot herder. Botnets use malware that infects Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as computers, mobile devices, smart TVs and network routers. Once the device is infected with the malware, it gives the bot herder total control over the device.
Cybercriminals use botnets to launch large-scale cyber attacks and steal sensitive information or money. Botnets can launch DDoS attacks, send mass phishing emails, deliver malware, and execute multiple brute force attacks at once.
Viruses are a type of malware that infects a device and replicates itself to spread to other devices. They often hide in malicious files or software known as hosts that victims install. Cybercriminals try to get users to download these hosts through phishing attacks. When a user downloads the host from a phishing email, the virus is activated and starts to spread itself throughout the device. It often hides itself by altering files, which helps the virus stay undetected on the device and secretly infect other devices. The virus can steal sensitive data from the device and damage it by slowing down performance, crashing applications and altering and destroying files.
Worms are a type of malware similar to viruses in that they can self-replicate. However, worms do not need a host and human interaction to spread to other devices. They look for security vulnerabilities on a device to exploit and install themselves. Once installed on a device, a worm tries to connect to other devices on the same network as the infected device. The worm looks for security vulnerabilities in the connected devices and exploits them to self-replicate onto those devices.
10. Fileless Malware
Fileless malware is a type of malware that does not use executable files with malicious code to install malware. It makes changes to legitimate tools native to a device’s operating system. Instead of downloading a malicious program onto the device’s hard drive, the malicious code from fileless malware goes straight to the computer’s memory and executes malicious activity through the native legitimate software.
11. Wiper Malware
Wiper malware is a type of ransomware that blocks a victim’s access to their data. However, wiper malware does not hold the blocked data for ransom and does not give access back to the victim. It will either keep the data encrypted and render it impossible to access, or delete the data entirely. Cybercriminals use wiper malware to sabotage and disrupt an organization’s business operations or to hide evidence of activity from the cybercriminal. Wiper malware is commonly used by nation-state actors and hacktivists to cover their tracks when conducting surveillance.
12. Mobile Malware
Mobile malware is a type of malware that targets mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to gain access to sensitive data. Jailbroken devices are susceptible to mobile malware as they lack the default security included in the original operating system designed to protect it. Android devices can get infected with mobile malware, but iPhones have better protection that helps prevent them from getting infected with mobile malware as often.
How To Stay Protected Against Malware
Malware can damage your device and steal your personal data, so it’s important to take measures to prevent it from installing on your device. Here are the ways you can stay protected against malware.
Install antivirus software
The best way to stay safe against malware is by using high-end antivirus software. Antivirus software is a program you install on your device that detects, prevents and removes known malware. If malware infects your device, antivirus software will identify and safely remove it. You can use antivirus software to detect any incoming malware and prevent it from installing on your device.
Don’t click on suspicious attachments or links
You should avoid downloading any suspicious attachments or clicking on malicious links from unsolicited messages. These unsolicited messages typically contain malware hidden in suspicious attachments and links. When you interact with them, the malware secretly installs on your device.
If you want to check if an attachment is safe, you can use antivirus software to scan the attachment and see if it contains any hidden malware. To check if a link is safe, look for any discrepancies in the URL such as spelling errors and substituting letters with numbers or symbols. You can also use a URL checker to verify the safety of the link.
Avoid downloading software from unreliable sources
Malware can infect your device if you download software from an unreliable source such as malicious ads or torrented websites. You should avoid downloading software from unreliable sources to prevent malware from installing on your device without your knowledge. Only download software from trusted sources such as Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store.
Keep your software up to date
Cybercriminals will exploit any security vulnerabilities in your device and applications. They often exploit security flaws found in outdated software to bypass security measures and install malware. You should keep your software up to date to prevent cybercriminals from installing malware on your device. Software updates patch any security vulnerabilities cybercriminals can exploit and add security features to protect your device.
Reduce your attack surface
Cybercriminals look for security vulnerabilities they can use to exploit and gain unauthorized access. By having a large attack surface, cybercriminals have more potential security vulnerabilities they can exploit. An attack surface refers to all the possible points where cybercriminals can access a system and steal data.
By reducing your attack surface, you can prevent cybercriminals from exploiting your security vulnerabilities to download malware. One way to reduce your attack surface is to get rid of any unnecessary applications on your devices.
Secure your online accounts
If malware infects your device, it will try to steal your sensitive data. Because of this, you need to protect your sensitive data by securing your online accounts with strong and unique passwords. By using strong and unique passwords, you make it difficult for cybercriminals to crack your passwords and compromise your accounts.
You should also enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on your online accounts. MFA is a security protocol that requires additional authentication. Enabling MFA helps provide an extra layer of security to your online accounts and ensures that only authorized users are allowed access to them.
Use a password manager
You can also safely store your sensitive data and login credentials in a password manager. A password manager is a tool that securely stores and manages your personal information in a digital encrypted vault. With a password manager, you can store your login credentials, IDs, passports, credit card numbers and other sensitive data in your digital vault. A digital vault uses strong encryption and can only be accessed using a strong master password.
A password manager can help secure online accounts by identifying weak login credentials and prompting you to strengthen them. Most have a built-in password generator that assists in creating strong passwords. Some password managers have an autofill feature that automatically fills in your login credentials when you are on the right website. The autofill feature protects your login credentials from spyware or spoofing attacks.
Back up your data
If malware infects your device, the malware can damage, alter, destroy or encrypt your data – preventing you from accessing it. You should regularly keep your data backed up in an external hard drive or cloud-based storage to always have access to it.
Protect Your Sensitive Information With Keeper®
Cybercriminals use different types of malware to infect your device and steal your data. You need to protect your devices and your data from malware attacks. The best way to protect your data from malware is by using antivirus software and storing your data in a password manager. Keeper Security offers a password manager protected by zero-trust and zero-knowledge encryption. Sign up for a free trial of Keeper Password Manager to protect your data.