Malware is malicious software designed to enable unauthorized access or cause damage to systems or networks. Malware statistics show that it has become a sweeping problem across many corporations scattered across the world. A recent report says the malware infection has grown by an immense 87% in the last decade.
Individuals and businesses are becoming wary of the threats malware poses and are now putting in place measures to counter them or dampen their effects. Contrary to what a lot of people might believe, the malware goes beyond viruses and involves all sorts of threats like spyware, for example.
It is a complex class of web threats that come in the shape of codes or files to execute actions on their own on the network of unsuspecting victims. They can also be used to mine private information from victims’ devices, cause damage to their files, spam, or gain control of their device.
Without much ado, let us discuss the various types of malware and their purposes.
These are the most common form of malware and remain the most significant threats up to this day. This is so because of their unique property of replicating and spreading without the need of a trigger from their creator. Without proper security measures put in place, they can infect an entire network.
Typically, they are attached to files that seem harmless. Once these seemingly innocuous applications or files are downloaded from the web, opened, and executed (in the case of .exe files), they latch on to other programs and corrupt or infect them. They can also spread through a network to damage a company’s systems. According to reports, as much as 38% of malware is spread through disguised MS Word documents.
This is a form of malware that masks itself as a safe program. Yet, it furnishes devices with threats that can execute a wide range of attacks. These attacks are aimed at disrupting functionality, damaging data, or stealing private information like banking details, social security details, and other confidential information.
Most often than not, they are transmitted through email attachments and downloads. These files often appear harmless but contain malicious codes to help hackers have unauthorized access to systems and execute commands that they deem fit. In 2018, 48% of malicious email attachments were MS Office files, a significant upgrade of 5% from the previous year.
This is one of the least dangerous malware today. Still, it does come with a bunch of cons. Adware is designed for generating revenue by sending users unwanted ads using pay-per-click functionality and display advertising.
Its major con is that it disrupts or inhibits the functionality of its target. When downloaded by end-users, they pop up a lot of ads that disrupt the user experience.
Worms could win a plaque for being the oldest form of malware. Putting things in perspective, they predate viruses and have been in existence even when large mainframes were a thing. Just like viruses, they can replicate on their own and can be spread from system to system via social engineering. Also, it can be propagated by exploiting loopholes in applications.
Once worms infect a device or system, they can transfer additional malicious software or inhibit communication tools. Perhaps their most devastating effect is taking up significant system memory. Consequently, the functionality of web servers and network servers is reduced drastically.
Malware goes beyond viruses. For individuals and small corporations, antimalware might suffice as a reasonable defense. However, for large corporations that have a lot of information stored online, it is necessary to put up more defense systems.