What is Malware?

Types of Malware

The world, unfortunately, is plagued with bad guys trying to do dastardly things; one of the most common of which involves malware. People are constantly trying to steal information and fiddle with other peoples' devices. This reality affects both people personally, as well as the business world, in varying ways. Its is important for individuals and businesses to protect their devices and machines to proactively and reactively combat these threats. I will be looking firstly at what malware even is and its many forms, then, what it takes to combat it, and the many anti-virus options in the business world.

Malware is short for malicious software. Exactly how is it malicious? It is intended to compromise computer functions, steal data, bypass access controls, or anything else you can think of that is, well, malicious (lord, 2012).

Adware

First, let's start with adware (advertising-supported software). Good examples of adware are pop ups or obscure advertisements. Most adware is sponsored by advertisers, and is used as a money making tool. Some is, however, attached with spyware that can track and steal user information (Lord, 2012).

Bots

Next, Bots are programs that automatically carry out tasks. These are not inherently bad, but can easily be used by those with mal intent. They can be networked into a botnet, and be used to wreak havoc via distributed denial of service attacks. They can also be used "as spambots that render advertisements on websites, as web spiders that scrape server data, and for distributing malware disguised as popular search items on download sites." (Lord, 2012).

Software Bugs

Sometimes, software security bugs can allow users to ignore user authentication protocols, and they should be considered as potential security risks (Lord, 2012).

Computer Worms

Computer worms are very common. They infect hosts by exploiting weaknesses in operating systems, tricking people into downloading files, etc. They take up bandwidth and overload servers. They have the ability to replicate and spread themselves. In addition, they often carry payloads that are "designed to steal data, delete files, or create botnets. " (lord, 2012)

Ransomware

Ransomware holds a computer, as you might imagine, as hostage. It does this by encrypting files and locking up the device until a demand, ussually a ransom, go figure, is paid. These viruses are often spread in similiar ways as worm viruses (Lord, 2012).

Rootkits

Next, rootkits are designed to remotely execute functions on a host machine without the knowledge of said host. Their actions include remotely executing files, access/steal information, modify system configurations, alter software, install concealed malware, and/or controlling the computer as part of a botnet. Because they are designed to hide their presence they can be trickier to deal with, and so, can require manual monitoring for unusual activity (Lord, 2012).

Trojan Horse

Trojan horse programs are used to trick users into allowing access by disguising themselves, and making themselves look like normal files or programs. Once downloaded, they wreak the usual information stealing, spyware activity, and provide access to more malware (Lord, 2012).

Effects of Malware

Malware, in general, causes increased CPU usage, slow computer and/or web browser speeds, problems connecting to networks, freezing or crashing, modified or deleted files, strange files/programs/desktop icons, programs running/turning off/reconfiguring themselves (often antivirus and firewall programs), strange computer behavior, and automatic emails or messages being sent without the user's knowledge (Lord, 2012).