Malware is the collective name for a number of malicious software variants, including viruses, ransomware and spyware. Shorthand for malicious software, malware typically consists of code developed by cyberattackers, designed to cause extensive damage to data and systems or to gain unauthorized access to a network. Malware is typically delivered in the form of a link or file over email and requires the user to click on the link or open the file to execute the malware.
Malware has actually been a threat to individuals and organizations since the early 1970s when the Creeper virus first appeared. Since then, the world has been under attack from hundreds of thousands of different malware variants, all with the intent of causing the most disruption and damage as possible.
What Can Malware Do?
Malware delivers its payload in a number of different ways. From demanding a ransom to stealing sensitive personal data, cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated in their methods. The following is a list of some of the more common malware types and definitions.
Types of Malware:
Possibly the most common type of malware, viruses attach their malicious code to clean code and wait for an unsuspecting user or an automated process to execute them. Like a biological virus, they can spread quickly and widely, causing damage to the core functionality of systems, corrupting files and locking users out of their computers. They are usually contained within an executable file.
Worms get their name from the way they infect systems. Starting from one infected machine, they weave their way through the network, connecting to consecutive machines in order to continue the spread of infection. This type of malware can infect entire networks of devices very quickly.
Spyware, as its name suggests, is designed to spy on what a user is doing. Hiding in the background on a computer, this type of malware will collect information without the user knowing, such as credit card details, passwords and other sensitive information.
Just like Greek soldiers hid in a giant horse to deliver their attack, this type of malware hides within or disguises itself as legitimate software. Acting discretely, it will breach security by creating backdoors that give other malware variants easy access.
Also known as scareware, ransomware comes with a heavy price. Able to lockdown networks and lock out users until a ransom is paid, ransomware has targeted some of the biggest organizations in the world today — with expensive results.