Ever felt like your computer system is showing unusual behavior? Maybe it is slowing down, hanging a lot, or showing you random pop-ups saying that you have won a lottery. If your system shows any of these signs, then it is safe to assume that it has been infected by malware. A slow system or any unusual behavior is a visible sign of a terrible malware infestation lurking in your system. Malware threats are common and it is important to be aware of the issue before you become a victim.
The world has become dependent on the internet and various services. The number of internet users to date is estimated at four and a half billion worldwide. A majority of users are still pretty misinformed about the most basic facts. This has attracted a maelstrom of malicious attackers who infect web applications with malware. Malware is a malicious computer program that is built to destroy computer devices or steal information from them. Types of malware include, but are not limited to, viruses, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, ransomware, and keyloggers.
How to Know if Your System Is Infected
No one should take malware threats lightly. A single file can instantly halt every single process and transfer control to the malicious actor. Your system will be infected with a malware if you have clicked a link that claims that you have won a lottery. When your system is hit by a malware, it starts showing the following symptoms:
- Random pop-ups start appearing when your system is connected to the internet.
- Sudden drop in the speed of your computer.
- Sudden crashes and system restart.
- Your browser’s homepage changes automatically without you doing anything.
- Your security software is disabled.
- Your friends receive suspicious/strange messages from your account.
- You cannot uninstall your software.
- Control Panel locks you out.
Malware doesn’t just affect your computer, it can also enter your smartphones, tablets or anything that can be connected to internet. Mobile malware has become more common with the arrival of fast internet and free apps.
We are aware of the fact that there is no one-time solution to avoid malware. Most of the time, the issues start out of nowhere. It is dangerous for businesses as well as individuals with personal devices. This is why we continuously research and update malware threats in order to stay ahead from the bad guys. After reading this blog, you too will understand the different nuances of malware attacks and how you can prevent them.
What is a Web-Based Malware Attack?
A web-based malware infects a computer by downloading or installing malware from an infected website. A web attack is conducted either via social engineering or drive-by download.
Social engineering is a technique where the hacker uses psychological tricks to manipulate users into giving away sensitive information. The attacker takes time to study the victim and then manipulates them using the information collected. Social engineering includes phishing, spear phishing, baiting, pretexting, and scareware. Social engineering hackers often target businesses by manipulating their employees with false information and take control of their system.
Hackers who create drive-by-malware conduct their activities on a massive scale and professional level. They go as far as creating a fake website infected with malicious code. This code is downloaded and installed into the user’s computer once they visit the website. Big businesses should be aware of such malware threats because the smallest of oversights can lose them millions and billions.
What is Malvertising?
Malvertising is an offshoot of malware attacks. Here, the perpetrators inject malicious code into legitimate online advertising networks which then redirects users to malicious websites. Malvertising is not limited to low-quality websites — many reputed platforms like the New York Times, The Atlantic, and BBC have been hit by ransomware malvertising. In this scenario, the user is shown an ad or a news source with a clickbaity title.
The user doesn’t think twice before clicking on the link as the source is a reputed one. This leads to multiple redirections between different servers along with hundreds of popups appearing on the browser. This eventually leads to a malware or ransomware being downloaded in the user’s computer. By the time you know about it, the damage has been done.
Malvertising is different from ad malware in two significant ways:
- Malvertising involves a malicious code being deployed on a publisher’s web page. It then goes on to attack the devices of the visitors. Ad malware can come through any source and target individual users or businesses.
- Malvertising only affects the person who is viewing the infected website and doesn’t tend to travel.
Malware Detection Process
Malware threats have advanced to a point where they have become a point of concern. This is why the most advanced cybersecurity courses include the study of malwares in their curriculum. These detection mechanisms include:
- Virtual machine-based detection: The detection process uses virtual machines that mimic the actual user environment while observing the behavior of suspicious files. Take sandbox for example. Sandboxes provide malware with a playing field and allow it to reach the shellcode execution stage. A malware-infected file will be deleted before the system is infected.
- Signature-based detection: Here, the ethical hacker studies the attack patterns of different malware using machine learning algorithms. They then categorize malware with similar patterns into families. The system detects malware signatures using these machine learning algorithms and denies access to the malicious files.
Web-Based Malware Analysis
Malware threats are categorized as per the deployment vehicle. These are mainly classified as trojans and adware.
- Trojans: A trojan is a malicious software that deceives the user under the pretext of false information. Attackers use social engineering to lure users into downloading Trojan malware in their devices. Trojans are classified based on their functionality. Some of these are downloader trojans, banking trojans, backdoor trojans, etc.
- Adware: Adware is programmed to send pop-up advertisements when their system is connected to the internet. These fake ads lead users to a fake site from where a malicious code is downloaded in the physical storage.
- AI malware: AI has the potential of increasing the scale of harm caused by traditional malware. This type of malware is in its initial phase. Despite this, it has the potential of learning system vulnerabilities at a faster pace.
Choose the Right Career Path with Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Malware threats are evolving with the introduction of technologies like blockchain, Internet of Things, etc. No industry sector in the world is safe from an attack like this. Manufacturing, healthcare, pharma, finance, accounting, construction, media, and more can lose their confidential data and market value with the smallest breach. The demand for cybersecurity professionals with the skill sets to identify and fix vulnerabilities is at an all-time high.
Since 2003, EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) has been a certification of choice among aspiring and entry-level cybersecurity professionals. This is an elaborately designed certification that touches the pain points of industries by using real-world examples and guidance from industry experts to counter the most notorious hackers. CEH adds an extra feather to your cap as an ethical hacker and enhances your skills to take on any challenge a cyber attacker throws your way.