Cybersecurity Basics. You know how every year the medical community campaigns for everyone to get a flu shot? In contrast, there are no predictable seasonal infections for PCs, smartphones, tablets, and enterprise networks.
All about malware
But instead of suffering chills and body aches, users can fall ill from a kind of machine malady—malware. Malware infections come at us like a torrent of water from a fire hose, each with its own methods of attack—from stealthy and sneaky to subtle like a sledgehammer. But if knowledge is power, as a preventative inoculation against infection, we offer here a short course on malware, what it is, its symptoms, how you get it, how to deal with it, and how to avoid it in the future.
Like the human flu, it interferes with normal functioning. Malware is all about making money off you illicitly.
Although malware cannot damage the physical hardware of systems or network equipment with one known exception—see the Google Android section below , it can steal, encrypt, or delete your data, alter or hijack core computer functions, and spy on your computer activity without your knowledge or permission. Malware can reveal itself with many different aberrant behaviors.
Here are a few telltale signs that you have malware on your system:. The recipe for a malware infection calls for a long list of ingredients. Topmost are the two most common ways that malware accesses your system—the Internet and email. Malware can penetrate your computer when deep breath now you surf through hacked websites, click on game demos, download infected music files, install new toolbars from an unfamiliar provider, set up software from a dicey source, open a malicious email attachment malspam , or pretty much everything else you download from the web onto a device that lacks a quality anti-malware security application.
Malicious apps can hide in seemingly legitimate applications, especially when they are downloaded from websites or messages instead of a secure app store.
All in all, there is a world of bad actors out there , throwing tainted bait at you with an offer for an Internet accelerator, new download manager, hard disk drive cleaner, or an alternative web search service. Malware attacks would not work without the most important ingredient: you. Another wrinkle is a bit of social engineering that a Malwarebytes expert observed in the UK.
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The scam hit mobile users by taking advantage of a common mobile direct-to-bill payment option. To be fair, we should also include a blameless malware infection scenario. Tomorrowland festival goers affected by data breach How to tighten security and increase privacy on your browser Removing the jam in your printer security. Given the variety of malware types and the massive number of variants released into the wild daily, a full history of malware would comprise a list too long to include here. That said, a look at malware trends in recent decades is more manageable.
Here are the main trends in malware development. However, the history of modern viruses begins with a program called Elk Cloner, which started infecting Apple II systems in Disseminated by infected floppy disks, the virus itself was harmless, but it spread to all disks attached to a system, exploding so virulently that it can be considered the first large-scale computer virus outbreak in history.
Note that this was prior to any Windows PC malware. Since then, viruses and worms have become widespread. The s : The Microsoft Windows platform emerged this decade, along with the flexible macros of its applications, which led malware authors to write infectious code in the macro language of Microsoft Word and other programs.
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These macro viruses infected documents and templates rather than executable applications, although strictly speaking, the Word document macros are a form of executable code. These ads often exploited legitimate software as a means to spread, but around , software publishers began suing adware companies for fraud.
Introduction to Malware: Definition, Attacks, Types and Analysis
The result was millions of dollars in fines. This eventually drove adware companies to shut down. Their ploys were designed to dupe consumers through social engineering tricks. After MySpace declined in popularity, Facebook and Twitter became the preferred platforms. Other kinds of malware are a different story. Mac systems are subject to the same vulnerabilities and subsequent symptoms of infection as Windows machines and cannot be considered bulletproof. Trojans and keyloggers are also threats.
The first detection of ransomware written specifically for the Mac occurred in March , when a Trojan-delivered attack affected more than 7, Mac users. In fact, Malwarebytes saw more Mac malware in than in any previous year. By the end of , the number of new unique threats that our professionals counted on the Mac platform was more than percent higher compared to the number noted in For more on the state of Mac malware, visit the Malwarebytes blog site here.
Malware criminals love the mobile market. After all, smartphones are sophisticated, complex handheld computers. They also offer an entrance into a treasure trove of personal information, financial details, and all manner of valuable data for those seeking to make a dishonest dollar. Unfortunately, this has spawned an exponentially increasing number of malicious attempts to take advantage of smartphone vulnerabilities. From adware, Trojans, spyware, worms, and ransomware, malware can find its way onto your phone in a number of ways.
Clicking on a dodgy link or downloading an unreliable app are some obvious culprits, but you can also get infected through emails, texts, and even your Bluetooth connection. Moreover, malware such as worms can spread from one infected phone to another. One source of statistics puts the number of mobile device users at 2.
A quarter of these users own more than one device. Fraudsters find the mobile market very attractive and take advantage of a gigantic economy of scale to leverage their efforts. Mobile users are often easier to target as well. Most do not protect their phones as diligently as they do their computers, failing to install security software or keep their operating systems up to date. Because of this, they are vulnerable to even primitive malware. Infected mobile devices are a particularly insidious danger compared to a PC. A hacked microphone and camera can follow your every move and conversation.
Even worse, mobile banking malware intercepts incoming calls and text messages to evade the two-step authentication security many banking apps use. Keep in mind that cheap phones can come with malware pre-installed, which are nearly impossible to clean. Malwarebytes for Android will warn you of such pre-installed malware and provide instructions on how to remove it.
Android leads the market with 80 percent of all smartphone sales, followed by iOS with 15 percent of all smartphones sold. No big surprise then that the more popular Android platform attracts more malware than the iPhone. Fortunately, there are a few unmistakable red flags that wave at you if your Android phone is infected.
You may be infected if you see any of the following:. That is not to say it doesn't exist, but it's extremely rare. In fact, suffering a malware infection on an iPhone mostly only happens in two extraordinary circumstances. The first consists of a targeted attack by a nation-state-level adversary—a government that has either created or purchased at a cost of millions of dollars a piece of malware engineered to take advantage of some obscure security hole in the iOS. The targeted recipient was invited to click on an included link. The second instance is when a user makes an iPhone vulnerable by means of jailbreaking, which removes the restrictions and limitations Apple imposes, chiefly to ensure that software apps can only be installed from the App Store.
Apple carefully vets the app developers it carries, even though malware piggybacking on a legitimate app has happened. One more point. So there are still plenty of ways that you can become a victim. Always proceed with caution. The answer here is: take your pick. There are billions of consumer-owned devices out there. Cyptominers and ransomware purveyors seem to be equal opportunity about their targets.
Individuals fall victim to these two, as do corporate businesses, hospitals, municipalities, and retail store systems. Also, it's not just consumers that mobile spyware criminals target. Tools previously released by the Shadow Brokers were used in the WannaCry ransomware attack on May 12, which locked up files on hundreds of thousands of computers around the world and forced emergency rooms in Britain to turn away patients.
Concerned that the upcoming malware release could have a similar impact, two security researchers want to be among the first to get copies of it, and have started a crowd-funding campaign to raise the money required. Calling themselves the Shadow Brokers Response Team, their goal is to assess the malware quickly and alert the makers of the products it targets. Below is a philosophical and practical examination of the ethics involved in paying money to the Shadow Brokers with the goal of limiting the danger of their efforts.
On Twitter, one of the researchers clarified that they will only give the data to other security experts who are well known. Neither responded to requests for comment. The ethics of the situation are difficult to parse, so we asked two leading technology ethicists to weigh in. Should these researchers give money to a criminal enterprise? Would that act be justified by the end result, which is to mitigate the risk that the malware release poses?
Deontology, or non-consequentialism, is a philosophical framework that judges actions without considering the outcomes of those actions.
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It suggests that everyone has a duty to do the right, moral thing, even if doing so will create harm. The philosopher Immanuel Kant believed, for example, that it would be immoral to tell a lie, even if doing so could save a friend from certain death. He added that although this framework treats the moral duty to do the right thing as an absolute, there are some limited exceptions.
Related Moral Justification of Offering Course on Malwares
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