An Overview of Malware – CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 – 1.1

There are many kinds of malware. In this video, you’ll learn about different malware types and how malware makes its way onto our computing devices.

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Malware is malicious software. It’s a very broad term that we use to describe software that’s performing bad functions to our computer or to other devices on the network. This might be some malware that’s collecting keystrokes and sending those keystrokes back to the bad guys.

Maybe your computer is participating in a large botnet and it’s the malware that’s installed on your computer that controls all of those processes.

Maybe you’ve got messages and advertising popping up whenever you browse the internet and it’s malware that’s causing those ads to appear on your screen.

Or maybe it’s just a traditional virus and worm that is causing problems on your computer, encrypting your data, deleting things off of your hard drive, and leaving you with having to collect whatever’s left after you remove the malware from your computer.

There’s many different kinds of malware, and in this course, we’ll have separate videos that break down a number of these topics into much more detail. One very broad range of malware is a virus, and that’s also a little bit different than perhaps, crypto-malware, which can be used to encrypt all of the data on your computer, and that’s also one that you might see associated with ransomware.

We also have other types of malware that can move on its own between computers– those would be worms. We also have Trojan horses that might be presented to us as something that looks like it’s benign, but indeed, is malware once it gets installed on your computer.

Rootkits are another type of malware that we’ll talk about in a separate video, along with key loggers, adware and spyware, and also, botnets.

For the bad guys to get malware on to your computer, there are a number of processes that usually take place. The first step is usually finding a vulnerability. This might be a vulnerability in the operating system or you, the end user, might be the vulnerability, clicking on things that are inside of an email link. Or clicking on things that look benign, but instead, have some malware associated with them.

Once that particular piece of software is executing on your computer, it usually installs this piece of malware that might include a back door. This gives a way for the bad guys to get back into your computer, even if you’re behind a firewall.

A botnet might even be installed after that point. Since they now have access to your computer, they can install and change anything they’d like inside of your computing device.

For malware to embed itself onto your computer, there has to be at least one program that runs initially. We’ll often find these bad links inside of emails– that’s why we often tell people not to click links that are inside an email. Instead, open up your browser and type in the name of the destination in the address bar yourself.

Some of this malware you might see on a website. You receive a pop-up that then takes you to another location by clicking on some of the links that are on that website.

Sometimes, a file will simply be downloaded to your computer when you visit a malicious URL. That malicious website is simply performing what’s called a drive by download. If you visit that page, it will download this file onto your computer.

What might be even worse is a worm that doesn’t need human intervention. It simply will install itself onto your computer across the network and you don’t have to click anything to become infected by that piece of malware.

Researchers are finding new vulnerabilities in our operating systems, in our applications all the time so it’s important that you always stay up-to-date. Make sure that you keep your operating system updated with the latest patches immediately after they are made available to you. And make sure that your applications are updated. Things like Adobe Flash are constantly updated because vulnerabilities are found often in those particular kinds of applications.

By performing some of these best practices, you can do your part to be able to keep this malware off of your computer and away from your data.