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20+ Types of Malware Attack and How to Detect Them Before They Happen

20+ Types of Malware Attack and How to Detect Them Before They Happen

Iolo Malware Killer has gained more and more popularity with the rise of malware attacks against individual and business users. It has become known for its efficacy in preventing malware attacks before they even happen.

Malware, or malicious software, is any program or file that harms a computer or its user. Common types of malware include computer viruses, ransomware, worms, trojan horses, and spyware. These malicious programs can steal, encrypt or delete sensitive data, alter or hijack key computing functions, and monitor the victim’s computer activity.

Cybercriminals use a variety of physical and virtual means to infect devices and networks with malware. For example, WannaCry, a famous ransomware attack, was able to spread by exploiting a known vulnerability. Phishing is another common malware delivery method where emails disguised as legitimate messages contain malicious links or email attachments that deliver executable malware to unsuspecting users.


Sophisticated malware attacks use a command-and-control server to allow attackers to communicate with the infected computer system, steal sensitive information from the hard drive or gain remote access to the device.

Emerging strains of malware cyberattacks include evasion and obfuscation techniques designed to fool users, security administrators, and anti-malware products. For example, evasion techniques can be simple to hide the source IP address and include polymorphic malware, which changes its code to avoid detection from signature-based detection tools. Another example is fileless malware that only exists in a system’s RAM to avoid detection.

Types of Malware that Iolo Malware Killer can Combat

  1. Computer Viruses

A virus is a type of malware that, when executed, self-replicates by modifying other computer programs and inserting their own code. When this replication is successful, the affected areas are then said to be infected.

Virus writers use social engineering and exploit vulnerabilities to infect systems and spread the virus. The Microsoft Windows and Mac operating systems target the vast majority of viruses that often use complex anti-detection strategies to evade antivirus software.

Viruses are for the cyberattackers’ profit (e.g., ransomware), send a message, personal amusement, demonstrate vulnerabilities that exist, sabotage and deny service, or explore cybersecurity issues, artificial life, and evolutionary algorithms.

Computer viruses cause billions of dollars worth of economic damage by causing system failure, wasting resources, corrupting data, increasing maintenance costs, logging keystrokes, and stealing personal information (e.g., credit card numbers).

  1. Computer Worm

A computer worm is a self-replicating malware program whose primary purpose is to infect other computers by duplicating itself while remaining active on infected systems.

Often, worms use computer networks to spread, relying on vulnerabilities or security failures on the target computer to access it. Worms almost always cause at least some harm to a network, even if only by consuming bandwidth. This is different from viruses which almost always corrupt or modify files on the victim’s computer.

WannaCry is a famous example of a ransomware cryptoworm that spreads without user action by exploiting the EternalBlue vulnerability.

While many worms spread and not change the systems they pass through, even payload-free worms can cause major disruptions. For example, the Morris worm and Mydoom caused major disruptions by increasing network traffic despite their benign nature.

  1. Trojan Horse

A trojan horse or trojan is any malware that misleads users of its true intent by pretending to be a legitimate program. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek story of the deceptive Trojan Horse that led to Troy’s fall.

Trojans are generally spread with social engineerings, such as phishing.

For example, a user may be tricked into executing an email attachment disguised as genuine (e.g., an Excel spreadsheet). However, once the executable file is opened, the trojan is installed.

While the payload of a trojan can be anything, most act as a backdoor giving the attacker unauthorized access to the infected computer. In addition, Trojans can give access to personal information such as internet activity, banking login credentials, passwords, or personally identifiable information (PII). Ransomware attacks are also carried out using trojans.

Unlike computer viruses and worms, trojans do not generally attempt to inject malicious code into other files or propagate themselves.

  1. Rootkits

A rootkit is a collection of malware designed to give unauthorized access to a computer or area of its software and often masks its existence or the existence of other software.

Rootkit installation can be automated, or the attacker can install it with administrator access.

Access can be obtained by a direct attack on the system, such as exploiting vulnerabilities, cracking passwords, or phishing.

Rootkit detection is difficult because it can subvert the antivirus program intended to find it. Detection methods include using trusted operating systems, behavioral methods, signature scanning, difference scanning, and memory dump analysis.

Rootkit removal can be complicated or practically impossible, especially when rootkits reside in the kernel. In addition, firmware rootkits may require hardware replacement or specialized equipment.

  1. Ransomware

When malware aims to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid, it is called a ransomware. This type of malware spreads through phishing emails, malvertising, visiting infected websites, or exploiting vulnerabilities.

Ransom payment amounts range from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Payable in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

  1. Keylogger

When you say keyloggers or keystroke loggers, it refers to system monitoring malware used to monitor and record each keystroke typed on a specific computer’s keyboard. Keyloggers are also available for smartphones.

Keyloggers store information and send it to the attacker, who can then extract sensitive information like login credentials and credit card details.

  1. Grayware

The term grayware was coined in September 2004 and describes unwanted applications or files that aren’t malware but worsen the computer’s performance and can cause cybersecurity risk.

At a minimum, grayware behaves in an annoying or undesirable manner and, at worst, monitors the system and phones home with information.

Grayware alludes to adware and spyware. The good news is most antivirus software can detect potentially unwanted programs and offer to delete them.

Adware and spyware are generally easy to remove because they are not as nefarious as other types of malware.

The bigger concern is the mechanism the grayware used to gain access to the computer, be it social engineering, unpatched software, or other vulnerabilities. Other forms of malware, such as ransomware, can use the same method to gain access.

Use the presence of adware to serve as a warning that the device or user has a weakness that should be corrected.

  1. Fileless Malware

Fileless malware is a type of malware that uses legitimate programs to infect a computer. Unlike other malware infections, it does not rely on files and leaves no footprint, making it challenging for anti-malware software to detect and remove. It exists exclusively as a computer memory-based artifact, i.e., in RAM.

Fileless malware emerged in 2017 as a mainstream cyber threat but has been around for a while. Frodo, Number of the Beast, and The Dark Avenger were all early fileless malware attacks. More recently, the Democratic National Committee and the Equifax breach fell victim to fileless malware attacks.

Fileless malware does not write any part of its activity to the computer’s hard drive making it resistant to existing anti-computer forensic strategies to incorporate file-based white-listing, signature detection, hardware verification, pattern-analysis, or time-stamping.

It leaves very little evidence that digital forensics investigators can use to identify illegitimate activity. That said, as it is designed to work in memory, it generally only exists until the system is rebooted.

  1. Adware

Adware is grayware designed to put advertisements on your screen, often in a web browser or popup.

Typically it distinguishes itself as legitimate or piggybacks on another program to trick you into installing it on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Adware is one of the most profitable, least harmful forms of malware and is becoming increasingly popular on mobile devices. Adware generates revenue by automatically displaying advertisements to the user of the software.

  1. Malvertising

Malvertising, a portmanteau of the malicious advertising, is the use of advertising to spread malware. It typically involves injecting malicious or malware-laden advertisements into legitimate advertising networks and web pages.

Advertising is a great way to spread malware because of the significant effort into ads to attract users to sell or advertise a product.

Malvertising also benefits from the reputation of the sites it is on, such as high-profile and reputable news websites.

  1. Spyware

A malware that gathers information about a person or organization is a spyware. It typically happens undetected and sends the information to the attacker without the victim’s consent.

Spyware usually aims to track and sell your internet usage data, capture your credit card or bank account information or steal personally identifiable information (PII).

Some types of spyware can install additional software and change the settings on your device. However, spyware is usually simple to remove because it is not as nefarious as other types of malware.

  1. Bots and Botnets

A bot is a computer with a malware infection that allows control remotely by the attacker.

The bot (or zombie computer) is for launching more cyberattacks or become part of a botnet (a collection of bots).

Botnets are a popular method for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, spreading ransomware, keylogging, and spreading other types of malware.

  1. Backdoor

A backdoor is a covert method of bypassing normal authentication or encryption in a computer, product, embedded device (e.g., router), or another part of a computer.

Backdoors are commonly for secure remote access to a computer or gain access to encrypted files.

  1. Browser Hijacker

A browser hijacker or hijackware changes the behavior of a web browser by sending the user to a new page, changing their home page, installing unwanted toolbars, displaying unwanted ads, or directing users to a different website.

  1. Crimeware

Crimeware is a class of malware to automate cybercrime.

It is to perpetrate identity theft through social engineering or stealth to access the victim’s financial and retail accounts to steal funds or make unauthorized transactions. Alternatively, it may steal confidential or sensitive information as part of corporate espionage.

  1. Malicious Mobile Apps

Not all apps available through the App Store and Google Play are legitimate. That said, the App Store is generally safer due to the better prescreening of third-party apps.

Malicious apps can steal user information, attempt to extort users, gain access to corporate networks, force users to view unwanted ads, or install a backdoor on the device.

  1. RAM Scraper

A RAM scraper is a type of malware that harvests the data temporarily stored in memory or RAM. This type of malware often targets point-of-sale (POS) systems like cash registers because they can store unencrypted credit card numbers for a brief period of time before encrypting them then passing them to the back-end.

  1. Rogue Security Software

Rogue security software tricks users into thinking their system has a security problem such as a virus and entices them to pay to have it removed. In reality, you need to remove fake security software at all costs.

  1. Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is a type of malware that uses a victim’s computing power to mine cryptocurrency.

  1. Hybrid Malware

Today most malware is a combination of existing malware attacks, trojan horses, worms, viruses, and ransomware.

For example, a malware program may appear to be a trojan but once executed. It may act as a worm and try to attack victims on the network.

  1. Social Engineering and Phishing

While social engineering and phishing aren’t malware per se. They are popular delivery mechanisms for malware attacks. For example, a phisher may be trying to get a user to log into a phishing website but may also attach an infected attachment to the email to increase their chances of success.

  1. Bugs?

Like social engineering and phishing, bugs aren’t malware, but they can open up vulnerabilities for malware to exploit. A great example is an EternalBlue vulnerability in Windows operating systems that led to the spread of the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm.

How does Malware Spread?

Six common ways that malware spreads:

  1. Vulnerabilities: A security defect in software allows the malware to exploit it to gain unauthorized access to the computer, hardware, or network
  2. Backdoors: An intended or unintended opening in software, hardware, networks, or system security
  3. Drive-by downloads: Unintended download of software with or without knowledge of the end-user
  4. Homogeneity: If all systems are running the same operating system and connects to the same network, the risk of a successful worm spreading to other computers rises.
  5. Privilege escalation: A situation where an attacker escalates access to a computer or network and then uses it to mount an attack
  6. Blended threats: Malware packages combine characteristics from multiple types of malware, making them harder to detect and stop because they can exploit different vulnerabilities.

Iolo Malware Killer is an intuitive, cloud-based antivirus and malware solution that can detect these ways malware can spread. It is a robust cybersecurity solution that you need to have. It is so because being online is now a staple in this digital generation.

How to Find and Remove Malware?

  • The increasing sophistication of malware attacks means finding and removing them can be harder than ever. Iolo Malware Killer is always up-t-date to discover these attacks and defend your devices and networks efficiently.
  • Many malware programs start as a trojan horse or worm. Next, they add the victim’s computer to a botnet, letting the attacker into the victim’s computer and network.
  • If you’re lucky, you can see the malware executables in your active processes. However, the rise of fileless malware is making this more difficult. Thankfully, the Iolo Malware Killer is up for the challenge.
  • Unfortunately, finding and removing is becoming more difficult because you may never know the extent of the infection. Often you’re better off backing up any data and reimaging the computer.
  • Prevention is key. Keep your systems patched. Also continuously monitor for vulnerabilities and educate your staff on the dangers of executing attachments and programs from suspicious emails. Installing Iolo Malware Killer is an awesome start. And remember, third-party risk and fourth-party risk exist.
  • Don’t forget to install your computers with new generation anti-malware software such as Iolo Malware Killer.

Final Words

The cyber realm has become such a scary place. However, almost all transactions and work completed virtually online. We don’t have much choice but to connect to the internet. Cybercriminals are becoming more strategic in developing new threads of malware that are easier to plant on computers. Don’t be vulnerable to these threats. Know them and detect them early with an anti-malware program like Iolo Malware Killer.

There is a growing rise in cybersecurity threats lately. So you need to take extra measures to secure your devices and your data. You need to do this when you’re browsing, sending an email, or on social media. Feel secure with Iolo Malware Killer today.

In this new normal economy, you need the best online solutions to meet your daily needs for work, business, and family, like the Iolo Malware Killer. Finding an online software store in Australia that offers the best software that’s affordable, legit, and comes with after-sales support is easy with Softvire Australia. Check the other online software on sale to make your purchase more worthwhile. Follow us on @SoftvireGlobal for the latest updates on our best deals and promos.

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