Monday, June 11, 2012

What is Malware? – Tutorial for Beginners

Malware has been a big problem today. Malware is short form of malicious software. A malware is a software designed to infect a computer system without owner being informed. Thousands of people have been victims of malware. In this article I will discuss all the types of malware, and give you an example of a Windows Trojan in use. The reason I will use Windows is because malware is very rare in Mac and Linux computers.

Types of Malware Software:
Computer Viruses – A computer virus is a malicious software that is developed to infect a computer. It is designed to spread from one computer to another and to damage a computer hardware, software and files. Once the virus infects a computer, it replicates or reproduces itself. Viruses are like parasites because they need a host to attach themselves to in order to infect a computer.

Worms – A worm is different from a virus because it doesn’t need a person to be able to spread and infect systems. Worms most often take advantage of known bugs in computers to spread. Computer worms are major threats to large networks.

Trojan Horse – A trojan horse is a malicious software that appears to do one thing, but actually does another. It is mostly used to control the victims computer rather than infecting or destroying files on it. Some trojans may be relatively “harmless” to your system, but other trojans pose a far greater effect to your computer. A trojan horse can monitor your internet connection, grab your email addresses, access passwords and more.

Keloggers – A keylogger is a hardware or software device that monitors each keystroke a user types on a specific computer’s keyboard. Once installed, this device will automatically load from the start-up and start capturing each and every keystroke that was typed on the computer. Any person with a basic knowledge of computer can use keylogger. You can check my post “What is Keylogger Software?” for more information related to keyloggers.

Remote Administration Tools – A Remote Administration Tool (also called as RAT) is s a software used to take control of a computer from a remote location. RATs can be used either for legal or illegal purpose. Once the software is installed on a computer the administrator can do almost anything on the remote computer.

Adware and Spyware – Adware (Advertising-supported software) is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running. On the other hand, a Spyware is software that sends information from the user’s computer without their knowledge. Spyware programs can collect various types of personal information, such as Internet surfing habit, sites that have been visited etc.
Adware and spyware can bring the computer system to its knees. They are detrimental, lowering the performance of the computer. The victim of these nasties might need to replace data, and might lose unique files.

How Malware Works
To show you an example of a malicious program, I will use a well known Windows Trojan, ProRat. ProRat opens a port on infected computer which allows the client to perform various operations on the infected computer. Once ProRat is installed on a computer it’s almost impossible to remove it. In the following video I will show you the procedure that a hacker will take to gain control over the victims computer using Prorat.
(Video: Watch this video on the post page)

How To Prevent Malware?
There are a couple things you can do to prevent yourself from being infected by a malware:
1. Make sure you have good and up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your computer. Also if there is an automatic update option on your anti-virus software, make sure it is enabled.
2. Make sure you have a firewall installed on your computer and make sure that it is actually enabled. Firewalls protect against unauthorized inbound and outbound connections.