Are you frequently visiting shady websites or torrent? Are you using pirated software? Then you might not be even aware that there are several types of malware present in your device right now.
“But Pritesh, I am not even facing any issues. All my files are safe and my computer is not misbehaving or running slowly. My smartphone is intact. That means my device is perfectly well in condition.”
Not all viruses or malware are meant to disrupt your device and its functioning. In fact, these disrupting things are less common now. Because users end up cleaning their devices. There is no advantage for the malware developers.
Nowadays, the real benefit is in sitting quietly without even giving a hint to the device users. Keep collecting the data and do the work in the background without letting the user know. In short, just too many types of malware.
There are even some malware that directly ask you for money. But let’s not get confused.
We will see all of them one by one.
What is Malware? What Are The Types of Malware?
Malware stands for Malicious Software and it is developed to disrupt the system or gain unauthorized data from a device. There are various common types of malware such as viruses, trojan, ransomware, etc.
Some are highly specialized malware while others are bundles with multiple types of malware in one. But after all, it’s just dangerous and bad for the system.
These are some common types that you have heard more frequently. There are many more. Let’s unwrap all of them.
A computer virus behaves exactly like a virus in a living body. A virus is malware that keeps multiplying itself in the system till your devices get incapable to handle the load. Eventually, your system crashes.
Eventually, it damages the system and corrupts your original files. Your files cannot be read once it gets affected by viruses. This is one of the most common types of malware.
Most of the time, viruses don’t get triggered unless you open the infected file. Once you open it, the viruses keep on multiplying.
I am sure most of you have experienced this at least once.
Most importantly, viruses cannot be controlled remotely by any hacker or attacker. It just gets associated with a file and keeps doing its work of multiplying and infecting. Also, It is not a separate software or app. It just comes with the files.
A computer worm acts much similar to a virus but there are a few differences. Worms multiply at a much faster rate than viruses.
Also, worms can be remotely controlled by the hackers or attackers. They generally take advantage of the vulnerabilities to infect your device. The primary objective is to eat away the resources of your device and slow it down.
You often experience slowing down of your device even when not many of the tasks are running at that time. Chances are there that your device has got some worms.
Worms mostly come from the internet when you download random files without checking the source and intent properly.
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Trojan horses appear like a normal software or file but they act differently than expected.
An innocent-looking file starts installing other malware, sends data, lets the attacker gain access to the device and do everything possible in its capacity.
Trojans do not replicate themselves hence they don’t multiply as rapidly as viruses and worms. Their major objective is to steal the data.
Note that, trojans portray something else and don’t directly scream aloud about being a data-stealing software. This is slightly similar to Spyware which we would be discussing soon.
Ransom is an amount of money that the attacker asks for decryption of your files.
Ransomware is malware which attacks your device and locks it completely. Since the ransomware encrypts all your files, you cannot access them anymore.
Once the attacker gets access and encrypts your device, he will ask you for some ransom.
In simpler words, attacker will lock your device and you need to pay for unlocking your own device. Scary, isn’t it?
Generally, they ask to pay in Bitcoins.
Hence, you can’t even file a complain or track the attacker because bitcoins cannot be tracked.
If you try to pay the attacker, even then there is no guarantee that your device will be unlocked. Hence, never pay these attackers. I repeat, never pay them.
So, how would you access your encrypted files? Always keep a backup of your data. If someone attacks you someday then just wipe out your hard disk and save your backed up data again.
Adware is a software or app that automatically keeps delivering your advertisements. They collect data from your activities and behavior and show you unnecessary ads.
Although collecting data is the job of Spyware and not an Adware but they often come together. We will discuss Spyware in the next point.
UC Browser or Xiaomi devices are the best examples of adware. I know this is harsh and a high level of a statement but that’s what I feel. These companies operate exactly like Adware.
And who knows about your online activities better than your browser? 😉
The whole purpose of making adware is to earn money. The more ads, the more money.
This is generally for freemium software and apps where you get all the services for free. If you pay them, they will stop showing you ads.
However, some pirated software comes with adware as well. And that’s how the companies making pirated software survive.
Click Fraud Malware
Click Fraud malware secretly opens multiple pages on your browser while you are surfing on the Internet. Those pages are owned by the attacker himself. Not only these pages are loaded but also the ads are clicked automatically from your browser.
So, this is an advanced level of Adware. Not only showing you ads but also clicking them. This might be something serious as your activities are getting monitored. You never know what the attacker is exactly clicking on!
This malware is for online advertising purpose where the website owner gets money for clicking on the advertisements on his site.
Are you getting random notifications and advertisements? If your answer is yes, then you are already a victim of click fraud malware.
Spyware (Credential Stealing Malware)
Credential Stealing Malware is rather a silent malware that does nothing wrong until you do something that it desires for. To clarify, it silently waits for you to visit some banking website or some website where you will enter your login ID and password.
This malware records all your keystrokes on the keyboard. And Boom! All your login IDs and passwords are in the hands of the attacker but you can’t really do anything.
Apart from keystrokes, spyware can even harvest all your data on the device, modify some settings, etc. These are again, extra features some spyware might have!
The worst thing is that we often don’t realize that we own Spyware. TikTok and Chinese apps are good examples of spying the devices of their users.
Botnet Malware does not harm you directly but it is not really good for your device. Your device comes under the control of the attacker. An infected device is a zombie because it has lost control over itself.
Botnet malware forms a huge network that involves many devices like your device. When a large number of such devices come together and attack a website then they perform a Distributed Denial-Of-Service attack (DDoS attack).
This is done to increase the load on a website which eventually shuts it down because of immense traffic pressure.
Why does botnet malware attack a website? It is pretty simple. The reason is money. If I create a huge army to attack a website and demand some money from the site owner then it is beneficial for me as an attacker.
Also, some companies run their own botnet rackets where they sell these services of attacking a competitor’s website right before an important event.
Botnet attacks are increasing these days because everything is taking place online.
And the worst part? You won’t even know about it.
We all often receive spam emails. But do you think spammers send scam emails from their own devices?
No, they target people like us and make us act like spammers.
Spam malware converts your device into a mail server which sends thousands of spam emails. The attacker gets the complete control of your device while you might not even realize that you are spamming thousands of people.
If someone traces back those emails then the sender is your device. This eventually leads you to legal troubles as well, if traced back.
This is a high profile and one of the most dangerous types of malware. It might cause you financial loss.
When you enter a website on your device, it does not load directly. Domain Name System tells your device to go to a particular website after you hit the website name.
The computer does not understand our English language. It understands IP addresses that are in the numerical form.
In short, every website has an IP address associated with it.
So, when we enter the name of a website like www.google.com, the DNS will automatically convert it into the IP address of Google so that your computer understands it. That’s how a website loads on your computer.
But what if someone messes up with this website and association of IP Addresses at your computer level? What if some software tricks your device?
DNS Changing malware plays with this system. Let’s say you enter the website of your bank because you want to do something via net banking. Now, this DNS changing malware will mislead your device to some other website which looks exactly the same.
Once you enter your login ID and password, it will not load really load because it is not the real website. It will make some excuses like a site, not loading, or any irrelevant excuse. After all, they got your login details. Who cares what happens to you later?
In case you found this post insightful, you might also like my Free Ebook ‘Digital Nexus’ where I discussed the safety measures against all types of attacks.
Summary: Types of Malware That We Saw Till Now
- Virus – Infects the files on your device and keeps on multiplying when the user triggers it
- Worm – Eats away your device resources and slows it down
- Trojan Horse – Acts as an innocent software that was meant for genuine work but steals information instead
- Ransomware – Locks your device and asks you for money
- Adware – Keeps delivering Ads to your device
- Click Fraud Malware – Not just delivers Ads but also clicks on them automatically
- Spyware – Steals all the important information and data from your device
- Botnet – Becomes a zombie and attacker uses your device to attack other networks
- Spam Malware – Uses your device to spam others
- DNS Changer – Redirects you to a fake website while it might seem genuine to you