Malware, also known as “malicious software,” is defined as any malicious program designed to harm computers, networks, or devices. There are many different types of malware, including viruses, worms, spyware, ransomware, Trojan horses, adware, and more. Modern malware is built to evade traditional anti-malware defenses.
One of the first known malware was the Brain virus. Two Pakistani brothers created it to protect their medical software, but the computer virus went out of control. Within weeks of releasing Brain in their native country, the duo received indignant phone calls from computer users infected by the virus as far away as Europe. Unknowingly, the siblings went down in history as one of the most prominent architects of malware.
Nowadays, a computer virus is more of a legacy threat. A computer virus piggybacks on other programs on its way into a system. Once inside a system, it must be activated by a human being. For example, someone must double-click an infected executable file to active a computer virus. Once a virus activates, it infects other files in the system, corrupting them and turning them into carriers.
Although computer viruses are dangerous, they’re not particularly lucrative for threat actors to use or create. Other, more formidable malware are gaining traction in the digital age. That’s why more people nowadays use comprehensive malware removal software that can remediate all types of malware, including viruses, worms, ransomware, adware, stalkerware, etc., instead of pure antivirus software.
Experts say that there are over 500,000 new pieces of malware detected every day. What entities create malware and why? Let’s find out.
This fact may surprise you, but the most common type of malware nowadays is adware. People use adware to generate ad revenue from affiliates and marketing partners. Most adware is irritating but usually not dangerous. It throws up pop-up ads on your screen or hijacks your searches. However, some adware also invades your privacy by tracking your browsing behavior.
2. Online Marketers
Some advertisers create malicious toolbars and extensions for web browsers that appear useful but are designed to hijack the ads you see on websites. Some malicious plugins and extensions may take over your browser, change your home page, or take you to websites without your consent.
3. Online Thieves
Online thieves sometimes create clickjacking malware to steal money. Clickjacking malware can be an actionable invisible frame over the user interface of a website that tricks you into placing orders on ecommerce websites, sharing your financial information, or downloading malware like a Trojan banker that steals your bank account information.
4. Cryptocurrency Miners
Mining cryptocurrency like bitcoin can be very profitable when the rates are high. Cryptocurrency farmers create large networks of computer with high end processors and video cards to mine currency. Of course, mining cryptocurrency is expensive. It requires significant investments in terms of hardware. Cryptomining costs a lot of electricity too.
To save costs, some miners of cryptocurrency develop cryptojacking malware. This malicious software is hidden in free downloads and behind malicious websites, emails, and links. Users unwittingly download the malware that secretly uses their system resources to mine currencies online.
Cryptojacking malware will drain a victim’s computer resources, Internet connection, and electricity. In addition, it also has a negative impact on the lifespan of a machine by overworking it.
5. World Governments
Some of the world’s more modern malware is created by world governments. Here are some examples:
- Experts believe that the United States and Israel designed the Stuxnet worm to damage another country’s nuclear program. Like a virus, a computer worm corrupts data. However, it can also drop other malware like rootkits or ransomware. Unlike a virus, a worm doesn’t need human interaction to activate. It also spreads quickly across computers and networks.
- Like any typical spyware, Pegasus can read messages, emails, calls, and passwords. It can also track locations and spy on targets through a device’s camera and microphone. Pegasus was developed by Israel and sold to world governments. States use Pegasus to spy on rivals, journalists, activists, and citizens.
6. Ransomware Gangs
Ransomware attacks are increasing fast. Ransomware encrypts files and folders on a computer or many computers and threatens to corrupt them permanently. Usually, hackers ask for ransom in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin because such mediums are less traceable than conventional currencies.
Darkside is one hacker group that creates and leases ransomware to other cybercriminals for a percentage of the payment. Hackers used their ransomware in the attack on Colonial Pipeline.
7. Grey Hat Hackers
Online miscreants are sometimes responsible for weaker strains of malware. They may create the malware for entertainment or to pass the time. Grey hat hackers who don’t consider themselves to be evil may create malware to hack organizations and help them discover security vulnerabilities in hopes of gaining notoriety or employment.
8. Black Hat Hackers
Black hat hackers are hackers who commit cybercrimes and break the law for personal gain. Unlike grey hat hackers, they aren’t in it to help anyone. Such hackers create malware to help them achieve their goals. For example, a hacker looking to steal intellectual property from an organization’s computers could develop a Trojan that can break through a network’s defenses and open a backdoor for nefarious activity.
9. White Hat Hacker
Unlike grey hat and black hat hackers, white hat hackers work for the good guys. They’re hired by companies to strengthen and protect networks against people with bad intentions. Rarely, some white hat hackers create malware to counter attack black hat hackers after trapping them with a honeypot computer.
A honeypot is a decoy computer that usually has weak network security and may carry seemingly lucrative data. A black hat hacker may break into the honeypot not realizing that they’re being observed by a white hat hacker. A white hat hacker may trace them to their location and infect their computer with malware like spyware for counterintelligence.
There are some of the many different authors of modern malware. To protect your computer and devices, use the latest antivirus software, active your firewalls, run operating system updates, and don’t open dodgy emails, links, and websites that may server as attack vectors for malicious actors.