Most of you have probably heard of McAfee anti-virus software and perhaps even some of the crazy stories of its founder, John McAfee. John was found dead in his prison cell on June 23rd, 2021 shortly after the Spanish Court ordered his extradition to the United States on criminal charges. The Catalan Justice Department said “everything indicates” he killed himself by hanging. If you are curious about John McAffee’s wild ride, Netflix has made a fantastic documentary for you.
This Sunday would’ve been John’s 76th birthday, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight how anti-virus has evolved to become anti-malware over the years. As always, I’ll speak plain English and aim to provide helpful tips along the way.
If there is one thing you discover today, let it be this: a virus is a kind of malware that replicates itself and spreads throughout a system. Malware is a term used to describe all kinds of malicious software such as viruses, trojans, rootkits, adware, spyware, and ransomware. In other words, all viruses are malware but not all malwares are viruses. So, we no longer use Anti-Virus or refer our protection suite as such.
How can you be on the lookout if you don’t know how the bad guys are trying to get you? Below is a quick run-down on most popular types of malwares. I have summarized what they are and how they cause problems for you.
Computer Virus: A virus is a type of malware that self-replicates by modifying other computer programs. Computer viruses cause system failure, wasting resources, corrupting data, increasing maintenance costs, logging keystrokes, and stealing personal information (e.g., credit card numbers).
Computer Worm: A computer worm also self-replicates and its purpose is to infect other computers by duplicating itself while remaining active on infected systems over a network. It could spread over a home network among a few computers, or a business network made up of 100s of devices. Worms almost always cause harm to a network, even if only by consuming bandwidth (slowing down your connections). Viruses, on the other hand, almost always corrupt or modify files on the victim’s computer.
Trojan Horse: A trojan horse or trojan is any malware that pretends to be a legitimate program. Trojans are generally spread with social engineering such as phishing attacks. For example, you may be tricked into opening an attachment which appears to be an excel file. Once the file is opened, the trojan is installed. While the purpose of a trojan can be anything, most act as an entry point giving the attacker access to the computer. Attackers can access personal information such as internet activity, bank login credentials, passwords, and more. Ransomware attacks are also carried out using trojans.
Rootkits: A rootkit is a malware designed to breach a computer and hide itself in other legitimate software. Rootkit detection and removal can be difficult, and sometimes may even require hardware replacement if a computer component is suspected to be compromised. The behavior analysis built into most enterprise grade malware protection does the best job of detecting suspicious activity likely caused by rootlets.
Ransomware: For some time now, ransomware has been the most publicized malware and for a very good reason. It’s designed to block access to a computer or data until ransom is paid. Ransomware spreads through phishing emails, fake advertising, visiting infected websites, or by hackers exploiting computers behind on updates.
Keylogger: Keyloggers record each keystroke typed on a computer and transmit this information to the attacker. Sensitive information like login credentials and credit card details are extracted from such breaches.
Grayware: The term grayware describes unwanted applications or files that aren’t malware, but still worsen the performance of computers and can increase cybersecurity risk.
Adware: Adware is a type of grayware which is used to place advertisements on your screen, often in a web browser or popup window.
Looking for a more complete list? Here you go. Hopefully you are now a bit more educated on malware. While there is no way to eliminate all vulnerabilities, let’s work together to make sure you are a tough nut to crack.
– Burak Sarac, Team Lead
iOS 16 Has 2 New Security Features
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National Monte Cristo Day is September 17th
The Chat Tech team celebrates Fridays with a team lunch, and one of our favorite places to order from is the Chicago Diner. From their menu, Daniel always orders the Monte Cristo sandwich. For those of you who don’t know, a Monte Cristo sandwich is an egg-dipped ham and cheese sandwich that is deep-fried. They are delicious, and can be elevated even further by adding a sweet element like raspberry jam on the side. Want to make your own? Check out this recipe.
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