There is often a lot of misunderstanding about what different types of malware and what exactly a computer virus is. Below is a brief description of the most common types of malware and how they affect the Information industry.
• Malware is a general term for software programs that have been designed with or can be used for malicious intent. These include viruses, Trojans and worms.
o A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer. A true virus can only be spread from one computer to another when its host is taken to the target computer; for instance because a user sent it over a network or the Internet, or carried it on a removable medium such as a floppy disk, CD, DVD or USB drive. Viruses can increase their chances of spreading to other computers by infecting files on a network file system or a file system that is accessed by another computer.
o Trojan Horse is non-self-replicating malware that appears to perform a desirable function for the user but instead facilitates unauthorized access to the user's computer system. The term is derived from the Trojan Horse story in Greek mythology. Trojan horses are designed to allow a hacker remote access to a target computer system. Once a Trojan horse has been installed on a target computer system, it is possible for a hacker to access it remotely and perform various operations. The operations that a hacker can perform are limited by user privileges on the target computer system and the design of the Trojan horse. ▪ Operations that could be performed by a hacker on a target computer system include: • Use of the machine as part of a botnet (i.e. to perform spamming or to perform Distributed Denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks) • Data theft (e.g. passwords, credit card information, etc.) • Installation of software (including other malware) • Downloading or uploading of files
• Modification or deletion of files
• Keystroke logging
• Viewing the user's screen
• Wasting computer storage space
o A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program. It uses a network to send copies of itself to other nodes (computer terminals on the network) and it may do so without any user intervention. Unlike a virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms always harm the network (if only by consuming bandwidth), whereas viruses always infect or corrupt files on a targeted computer.
• Spyware is any software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the Internet; however, it should be noted that the majority of shareware and freeware applications do not come with spyware. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also gather information about e-mail addresses and even passwords and credit card numbers.
o Adware is a form of spyware that collects information about the user in order to display advertisements in the Web browser based on the information it collects from the user's browsing patterns.
• Bots are programs that are covertly installed on a user’s machine in order to allow an unauthorized user to control the computer remotely. They allow an attacker to remotely control the targeted system through a communication channel such as IRC. These channels allow the remote attacker to control a large number of compromised computers over a single, reliable channel in a bot network, which can then be used to launch coordinated attacks....
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