How Malware and Malware Can Be Contained


Cyber attackers frequently employ deception techniques to gain unauthorized access to systems and data. For instance, the WannaCry ransomware attack made its mark by hiding its malicious code within image files.

Malicious software (malware) refers to any harmful computer program. This article explores four methods by which malware may be hidden: 1.

1. An email attachment that appears as valid software but actually contains spyware

Email attachments can carry all sorts of files, ranging from images and video to documents and e-files. Because anyone can send out emails with whatever attachments they choose, malicious extensions have become a popular means of spreading malware – software that gives attackers access to a victim’s computer to steal data, modify files, or run other harmful programs – which cybercriminals frequently conceal as seemingly benign files or documents in email attachments sent as emails.

Attackers frequently send an email with a PDF attachment that looks like a report or official-looking document, instructing recipients to open it to view its contents. In reality, however, such documents could contain viruses or spyware, which could install ransomware or rootkit malware onto victims’ systems or even allow attackers to view and record keystrokes remotely.

One way to quickly determine whether an attachment is safe is to look at its file name after the period. Common file extensions that can be trusted include GIF, JPG or PNG, MP3, and WAV; any others, such as those representing popular Microsoft Office files like DOC, XLS, and TXT, which represent text-based documents and spreadsheets, may contain viruses.

Attackers may attempt to conceal malware as executable files (EXE), archive files (ZIP or RAR), documents (DOC, DOCX, XLS, and TXT), image and video files containing scripts that will activate upon accessing an email, websites, or peer-to-peer networks; malware downloaders often pose as free “tools,” often promoted as Internet accelerators, download managers, hard disk cleaners or alternative search services.

2. A DoS attack

DoS attacks use fraudulent data to flood a system with excessive information and deny legitimate users service, often at great expense (ranging from thousands to millions of dollars). DoS attacks against significant retailers could cost lost sales and brand damage for months – criminal perpetrators frequently target servers used by banks or payment gateways with motivations including revenge, blackmail, and hacktivism as possible motives.

Hackers use botnets to launch DDoS attacks by infecting multiple computers connected to the Internet and orchestrating their attacks against one specific target simultaneously. Attack techniques used include CLDAP reflection, UDP amplification, and DNS spoofing; one notable episode used an impressively massive botnet, which sent junk traffic to Amazon at an extraordinary 3.3 terabytes per second rate over three days.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are one of the most prevalent types of DoS attacks, employing multiple Internet-connected systems to flood their target server with network traffic that forces it offline. Participants could include willing accomplices – like illegal hacktivist groups – or unwitting victims infected by malware.

DoS and DDoS attacks can be challenging to identify due to their similarity to everyday network connectivity issues or web traffic surges; consequently, many may dismiss them outright. A business can quickly identify an imminent DoS attack by noting when systems suddenly slow down for no apparent reason or files take longer to download.

DoS attacks tend to be brief; however, motivated attackers could sustain the attacks for as long as possible. Therefore, businesses must determine their maximum tolerated loss of service so they can prepare accordingly; additionally, they should estimate costs and potential impacts associated with different lengths of outage, even though several hours of downtime for retail outlets might seem inconsequential in comparison with preventing an online retailer from serving its customers could cost millions.

3. A hacker uses search engine optimization (SEO) poisoning to improve the ranking of a website

SEO poisoning, an illegal cyberattack technique, involves illegally manipulating search engine algorithms and websites. Threat actors use trending search terms to increase rankings of malicious websites containing harmful content – these fake sites that often look exactly like real sites then direct unsuspecting internet users towards phishing sites or malware downloads.

Attackers using this form of cybercrime often capitalize on natural disasters or significant political campaigns when people are searching for more information. Criminals take advantage of such moments to scam victims into sending money or aid to fraudulent accounts or engaging in similar illicit activity.

Attacks like these can have devastating repercussions for businesses, mainly when they target employees who search for productivity tools or programs used in the workplace. Attackers could then infect these computers with ransomware and other threats, which can steal sensitive data or expose a company to hacking attempts and unauthorized access.

One way for companies to prevent these attacks is to ensure their network security protects against malware, as well as teach employees to be wary when browsing the Internet or using devices for work – so they can identify suspicious links that might lead to downloads or other harmful activity.

An alternative way of protecting against such attacks is implementing strong password policies and web browser security protection, as well as having partners like CloudFlare provide an extra layer of protection against phishing links and dangerous sites.

This year has witnessed several instances in which malware has been spread through SEO poisoning and malvertising. For example, in late 2020, attackers spread SolarMarker as a PDF download from a site ranking high on Google search results. Meanwhile, fake installers of OBS Studio and Notepad++ that drop a Python script capable of stealing data have also been deployed using SEO poisoning techniques to spread such threats.

These attacks can be prevented by taking proactive steps to protect a company’s network and informing employees about how to be safer online, including never clicking links from unfamiliar sources, downloading files from unknown locations, and being wary of emails asking for personal details such as passwords.

4. A botnet of zombie computers

As seen in The Manchurian Candidate, an online criminal may gain control of your computer and use it as his servant, carrying out his orders without your knowledge – including sending spam email messages and attacking websites with malware or mining cryptocurrency without permission.

Cybersecurity jargon refers to infected PCs as zombies, while their collective is known as a botnet – this could range from several devices up to millions. Whoever controls this operation is known as a botmaster or herder.

Unwittingly becoming the owner of a zombie PC may occur through visiting compromised websites, opening infected emails, or downloading unscrupulous programs. Malware entering your system might masquerade as regular applications while altering its operating system to allow criminals to control it remotely.

Once a computer becomes a zombie, it can be used for various cyberattacks – sending spam or attacking websites with pay-per-click advertising is just the tip of the iceberg; hackers could even use botnets to spy on other users and gather data such as credit card numbers and passwords that will later be sold on black markets online or sent directly into his bank account.

Hackers create and operate botnets for many different reasons, including financial gain or ideological ideology. Botnets may also be used to degrade or attack services on the internet, such as banks, shopping sites, or social media. With so many zombie computers involved in such attacks dismantling difficult.

Hackers commonly employ malicious software such as worms to infiltrate computers, creating zombie computers. Once infected, these “zombie computers” remain idle except for periodically checking back with their controller – who might use the infected machine for click fraud against websites displaying pay-per-click advertising or hosting phishing or money mule recruiting websites.