Malware explained: How to prevent, detect and recover from it
Malware definition, software intended to damage a computer, mobile device, computer system, or computer network, or to take partial control over its operation: tips on finding and removing viruses, spyware, and other malware. See more. Legal Definition of malware.: software that is designed to interfere with a computer's normal functioning and that can be used to commit cybercrime (as by revealing passwords, PINs, and .
Short for "malicious software," malware refers to software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. In Spanish, "mal" is a prefix that means "bad," making the term "badware," which is a good way to remember it even if you're not Spanish.
Common examples of malware include viruseswormstrojan horsesand spyware. Viruses, for example, can cause havoc on a computer's hard drive by deleting files or directory information. Spyware can gather data malwafe a user's system without the user knowing it. This can include anything from the Web pages a user visits to personal information, such as credit card numbers.
It is unfortunate that there are software programmers out there with malicious intent, but it is good to be aware of the fact. You can install anti-virus and anti-spyware utilities on your computer that will seek and destroy the malicious programs they find on your computer. So join the fight against badware and install some protective utilities on your hard drive!
This page contains a what is the definition of malware definition of Malware. It explains in computing terminology what Malware waht and is one of many software what is the definition of malware in the TechTerms dictionary. All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Malware malare to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!
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7 Types of malware
Malware, short for “malicious software,” refers to any intrusive software developed by cybercriminals (often called “hackers”) to steal data and damage or destroy computers and computer systems. Examples of common malware include viruses, worms, Trojan viruses, spyware, adware, and . Software or firmware intended to perform an unauthorized process that will have adverse impact on the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an information system. A virus, worm, Trojan horse, or other code-based entity that infects a host. Spyware and some forms of adware . Malware. Short for "malicious software," malware refers to software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. In Spanish, "mal" is a prefix that means "bad," making the term "badware," which is a good way to remember it (even if you're not Spanish). Common examples of malware include viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware.
Malware, short for malicious software, is a blanket term for viruses, worms, trojans and other harmful computer programs hackers use to wreak destruction and gain access to sensitive information.
As Microsoft puts it , "[malware] is a catch-all term to refer to any software designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network. This means that the question of, say, what the difference is between malware and a virus misses the point a bit: a virus is a type of malware, so all viruses are malware but not every piece of malware is a virus. There are a number of different ways of categorizing malware; the first is by how the malicious software spreads.
You've probably heard the words virus, trojan, and worm used interchangeably, but as Symantec explains , they describe three subtly different ways malware can infect target computers:. Malware can also be installed on a computer "manually" by the attackers themselves, either by gaining physical access to the computer or using privilege escalation to gain remote administrator access.
Another way to categorize malware is by what it does once it has successfully infected its victim's computers. There are a wide range of potential attack techniques used by malware:. Any specific piece of malware has both a means of infection and a behavioral category. So, for instance, WannaCry is a ransomware worm. And a particular piece of malware might have different forms with different attack vectors: for instance, the Emotet banking malware has been spotted in the wild as both a trojan and a worm.
A look at the Center for Internet Security's top 10 malware offenders for June of gives you a good sense of the types of malware out there. By far the most common infection vector is via spam email, which tricks users into activating the malware, Trojan-style. Cryptocurrency malware like CoinMiner rounds out the list. With spam and phishing email being the primary vector by which malware infects computers, the best way to prevent malware is make sure your email systems are locked down tight—and your users know how to spot danger.
We recommend a combination of carefully checking attached documents and restricting potentially dangerous user behavior —as well as just familiarizing your users with common phishing scams so that their common sense can kick in. When it comes to more technical preventative measures, there are a number of steps you can take , including keeping all your systems patched and updated, keeping an inventory of hardware so you know what you need to protect, and performing continuous vulnerability assessments on your infrastructure.
When it comes to ransomware attacks in particular, one way to be prepared is to always make backups of your files , ensuring that you'll never need to pay a ransom to get them back if your hard drive is encrypted. Antivirus software is the most widely known product in the category of malware protection products; despite "virus" being in the name, most offerings take on all forms of malware.
While high-end security pros dismiss it as obsolete, it's still the backbone of basic anti-malware defense. When it comes to more advanced corporate networks, endpoint security offerings provide defense in depth against malware.
They provide not only the signature-based malware detection that you expect from antivirus, but anti-spyware, personal firewall, application control and other styles of host intrusion prevention. Gartner offers a list of its top picks in this space , which include products from Cylance, CrowdStrike, and Carbon Black. It's fully possible—and perhaps even likely—that your system will be infected by malware at some point despite your best efforts. How can you tell for sure?
CSO columnist Roger Grimes has written a deep dive into how to diagnose your PC for potential malware that you might find helpful. When you get to the level of corporate IT, there are also more advanced visibility tools you can use to see what's going on in your networks and detect malware infections. Most forms of malware use the network to either spread or send information back to their controllers, so network traffic contains signals of malware infection that you might otherwise miss ; there are a wide range of network monitoring tools out there , with prices ranging from a few dollars to a few thousand.
There are also SIEM tools , which evolved from log management programs; these tools analyze logs from various computers and appliances across your infrastructure looking for signs of problems, including malware infection. How to remove malware once you're infected is in fact the million dollar question.
Malware removal is a tricky business, and the method can vary depending on the type you're dealing with. CSO has information on how to remove or otherwise recover from rootkits , ransomware , and cryptojacking. We also have a guide to auditing your Windows registry to figure out how to move forward. If you're looking for tools for cleansing your system, Tech Radar has a good roundup of free offerings , which contains some familiar names from the antivirus world along with newcomers like Malwarebytes.
We've already discussed some of the current malware threats looming large today. But there is a long, storied history of malware, dating back to infected floppy disks swapped by Apple II hobbyists in the s and the Morris Worm spreading across Unix machines in Some of the other high-profile malware attacks have included:.
You can count on cyber criminals to follow the money. They will target victims depending on likelihood of delivering their malware successfully and size of potential payout.
If you look at malware trends over the past few years, you will see some fluctuation in terms of the popularity of certain types of malware and who the most common victims are—all driven by what the criminals believe will have the biggest ROI.
Recent research reports indicate some interesting shifts in malware tactics and targets. Cryptominers, which had surpassed ransomware as the most common type of malware, are falling out of favor due to the decline in cryptocurrency values. Ransomware is becoming more targeted, moving away from a shotgun approach. Businesses saw a 79 percent increase in the amount of malware they dealt with in over , according to the Malwarebytes Labs State of Malware Report Kujawa cites Emotet as one of the most significant.
Once it infects a system, it starts sending email and tries to infect other people. Emotet has been around since and targeted mainly consumers. Nearly 60 percent of malware attacks on business are now designed to move laterally across a network. That combined with the decline of cryptocurrency values and stepped up defenses against ransomware turned attackers to what worked in the past. It always comes back around. The Malwarebyte Labs report has seen a shift away from cryptomining starting in the second quarter of , due largely to the decline in cryptocurrency values.
Still, the number of cryptomining detections increased for the year by 7 percent. Instead, cyber criminals are turning to information stealing malware like Emotet to turn a profit. Kujawa notes that small and medium-sized businesses SMBs are becoming more popular targets. They also often softer targets than larger businesses. Ransomware detections actually declined by 26 percent worldwide in , according to the Malwarebytes report. However, ransomware detections at businesses rose by 28 percent.
Industries most often targeted were consulting, education, manufacturing and retail. Kujawa believes criminals focus on these industries because of opportunity and likelihood of ransoms being paid. Here are the latest Insider stories. More Insider Sign Out. Sign In Register. Sign Out Sign In Register. Latest Insider. Check out the latest Insider stories here. More from the IDG Network. Viruses explained: How they spread and 5 signs you've been infected.
What is a Trojan? How this tricky malware works. Ransomware explained: How it works and how to remove it. Malware definition Malware, short for malicious software, is a blanket term for viruses, worms, trojans and other harmful computer programs hackers use to wreak destruction and gain access to sensitive information.
Types of malware There are a number of different ways of categorizing malware; the first is by how the malicious software spreads. You've probably heard the words virus, trojan, and worm used interchangeably, but as Symantec explains , they describe three subtly different ways malware can infect target computers: A worm is a standalone piece of malicious software that reproduces itself and spreads from computer to computer. A virus is a piece of computer code that inserts itself within the code of another standalone program, then forces that program to take malicious action and spread itself.
A trojan is a program that cannot reproduce itself but masquerades as something the user wants and tricks them into activating it so it can do its damage and spread. There are a wide range of potential attack techniques used by malware: Spyware is defined by Webroot Cybersecurity as "malware used for the purpose of secretly gathering data on an unsuspecting user.
A keylogger is a specific kind of spyware that records all the keystrokes a user makes—great for stealing passwords. A rootkit is, as described by TechTarget , "a program or, more often, a collection of software tools that gives a threat actor remote access to and control over a computer or other system.
Adware is malware that forces your browser to redirect to web advertisements, which often themselves seek to download further, even more malicious software. As The New York Times notes , adware often piggybacks onto tempting "free" programs like games or browser extensions.
Ransomware is a flavor of malware that encrypts your hard drive's files and demands a payment, usually in Bitcoin, in exchange for the decryption key. Several high-profile malware outbreaks of the last few years, such as Petya , are ransomware. Without the decryption key, it's mathematically impossible for victims to regain access to their files. So-called scareware is a sort of shadow version of ransomware; it claims to have taken control of your computer and demands a ransom, but actually is just using tricks like browser redirect loops to make it seem as if it's done more damage than it really has, and unlike ransomware can be relatively easily disabled.
Cryptojacking is another way attackers can force you to supply them with Bitcoin—only it works without you necessarily knowing. The crypto mining malware infects your computer and uses your CPU cycles to mine Bitcoin for your attacker's profit.