A website can be infected with malware

Information and facts about computer viruses and malware

PC, Mac, smartphone and tablet users are constantly exposed to the threat of new computer viruses and malware variants. To protect yourself from this, you need to know your opponent. Below are the main types of malware and their potential impact.

Brief overview

The term “malware” - an amalgamation of the words “malicious” and “software” - is used today to describe malicious programs of all kinds on computers or mobile devices. These programs are installed without the user's consent and can have a number of unpleasant consequences. For example, they can reduce system performance, search for personal data within your system, delete information or even affect the operation of computer-controlled hardware. Hackers are developing more and more sophisticated methods of penetrating systems, creating a flood of the malware market. Let's take a look at some of the most common types of malware.

1. Computer viruses

Computer viruses get their name from their ability to "infect" multiple files on a computer. They spread to other devices when they send infected files via email or via a removable storage device such as a computer. B. a USB stick or (back then) a floppy disk. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the first computer virus called "Brain" was developed in 1986. Tired of customers illegally copying software from their store, two brothers developed the virus that was supposed to infect the boot sector of software thieves' floppy disks. This is how the virus was passed on when the floppy disks were copied.

2. worms

Unlike viruses, worms do not rely on human help to spread: they infect a device and then use computer networks to spread to other computers - without user intervention. By identifying vulnerabilities in the relevant networks, such as For example, by exploiting vulnerabilities in e-mail programs, worms can send thousands of copies of themselves to infect new systems and rerun the process. While many worms used to only consume system resources and thus reduce performance, most new worms contain so-called "payloads" which are used to steal or delete files.

3. Adware

One of the most prevalent online annoyances is adware. These programs automatically display advertisements on the host computer. Well-known types of adware are, for example, pop-up advertisements on websites or advertisements integrated into supposedly free applications. While many adware are relatively harmless, there are variants that use tracking tools to determine your location or browsing history and to display targeted advertisements on your screen. BetaNews even reports a new form of adware that can disable your antivirus software. Because adware is installed with the knowledge and consent of the user, it cannot be classified as “malware”. This is why it is often referred to as a "potentially unwanted program".

4. Spyware

Spyware (short for "spy software") does exactly what its name suggests: it spies on your computer. It collects data such as B. Your keystrokes, browsing habits, and even login details, which are then sent to third parties - usually cyber criminals. It can also change certain security settings on your computer or affect your network connections. According to TechEye, new types of spyware are even giving companies the ability to track the behavior of their users across devices without their consent.

5. Ransomware

Ransomware infects your computer and encrypts confidential data, such as B. personal documents and photos, and asks a ransom for their decryption. If you refuse to pay, the data will be deleted. Some ransomware variants also block all access to the computer. The ransom notes may claim that they are legitimate law enforcement agencies who caught you doing illegal activity. In June 2015, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received complaints from users who suffered a total of $ 18 million in damage from a common ransomware called CryptoWall.

6. Bots

Bots are programs that are supposed to automatically perform certain actions. They serve many legitimate purposes, but they can also be misused as a type of malware. Once on a computer, bots can trick the device into executing certain commands - without the knowledge or even consent of the user. Hackers can also try to infect multiple computers with the same bot to create a so-called “botnet” (short for “robot network”) that can be used to remotely control the infected computers. Cyber ​​criminals use a botnet to steal confidential data, spy on the activities of their victims, automatically spread spam or carry out devastating DDoS attacks on computer networks.

7. Rootkits