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Malware


Malware
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Malware

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الاقامة : ام الدنيا
التواجد : غير متصل
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المشاركات : 7,392
الإنتساب : Oct 2010
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Malware

Malware


Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, consists of programming (code, scripts, active content, and other software) designed to disrupt or deny operation, gather information that leads to loss of privacy or exploitation, gain unauthorized access to system resources, and other abusive behavior.[1] The expression is a general term used by computer professionals to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code.[2]

Software is considered to be malware based on the perceived intent of the creator rather than any particular features. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, dishonest adware, scareware, crimeware, most rootkits, and other malicious and unwanted software or program. In law, malware is sometimes known as a computer contaminant, for instance in the legal codes of several U.S. states, including California and West Virginia.[3][4]

Preliminary results from Symantec published in 2008 suggested that "the release rate of malicious code and other unwanted programs may be exceeding that of legitimate software applications."[5] According to F-Secure, "As much malware [was] produced in 2007 as in the previous 20 years altogether."[6] Malware's most common pathway from criminals to users is through the Internet: primarily by e-mail and the World Wide Web.[7]

The prevalence of malware as a vehicle for organized Internet crime, along with the general inability of traditional anti-malware protection platforms (products) to protect against the continuous stream of unique and newly produced malware, has seen the adoption of a new mindset for businesses operating on the Internet: the acknowledgment that some sizable percentage of Internet customers will always be infected for some reason or another, and that they need to continue doing business with infected customers. The result is a greater emphasis on back-office systems designed to spot fraudulent activities associated with advanced malware operating on customers' computers.[8]

On March 29, 2010, Symantec Corporation named Shaoxing, China, as the world's malware capital.[9]

Malware is not the same as defective software, that is, software that has a legitimate purpose but contains harmful bugs. Sometimes, malware is disguised as genuine software, and may come from an official site. Therefore, some security programs, such as McAfee may call malware "potentially unwanted programs" or "PUP". Though a computer virus is malware that can reproduce itself, the term is often used erroneously to refer to the entire category.

Many early infectious programs, including the first Internet Worm and a number of MS-DOS viruses, were written as experiments or pranks. They were generally intended to be harmless or merely annoying, rather than to cause serious damage to computer systems. In some cases, the perpetrator did not realize how much harm his or her creations would do. Young programmers learning about viruses and their techniques wrote them simply for practice, or to see how far they could spread. As late as 1999, widespread viruses such as the Melissa virus and the David virus appear to have been written chiefly as pranks. The first mobile phone virus, Cabir, appeared in 2004.

Hostile intent related to vandalism can be found in programs designed to cause harm or data loss. Many DOS viruses, and the Windows ExploreZip worm, were designed to destroy files on a hard disk, or to corrupt the file system by writing invalid data to them. Network-borne worms such as the 2001 Code Red worm or the Ramen worm fall into the same category. Designed to vandalize web pages, worms may seem like the online equivalent to graffiti tagging, with the author's alias or affinity group appearing everywhere the worm goes.[citation needed]

Since the rise of widespread broadband Internet access, malicious software has been designed for a profit, for examples forced advertising. For instance, since 2003, the majority of widespread viruses and worms have been designed to take control of users' computers for black-market exploitation.[10] Infected "zombie computers" are used to send email spam, to host contraband data such as child pornography,[11] or to engage in distributed denial-of-service attacks as a form of extortion.[12]

Another strictly for-profit category of malware has emerged in spyware -- programs designed to monitor users' web browsing, display unsolicited advertisements, or redirect affiliate marketing revenues to the spyware creator. Spyware programs do not spread like viruses; they are, in general, installed by exploiting security holes or are packaged with user-installed software, such as peer-to-peer applications

Main articles: Computer virus and Computer worm

The best-known types of malware, viruses and worms, are known for the manner in which they spread, rather than any other particular behavior. The term computer virus is used for a program that has infected some executable software and, when run, causes the virus to spread to other executables. Viruses may also contain a payload that performs other actions, often malicious. On the other hand, a worm is a program that actively transmits itself over a network to infect other computers. It too may carry a payload.

These definitions lead to the observation that a virus requires user intervention to spread, whereas a worm spreads itself automatically. Using this distinction, infections transmitted by email or Microsoft Word documents, which rely on the recipient opening a file or email to infect the system, would be classified as viruses rather than worms.

Some writers in the trade and popular press misunderstand this distinction and use the terms interchangeably.

Capsule history of viruses and worms

Before Internet access became widespread, viruses spread on personal computers by infecting the executable boot sectors of floppy disks. By inserting a copy of itself into the machine code instructions in these executables, a virus causes itself to be run whenever a program is run or the disk is booted. Early computer viruses were written for the Apple II and Macintosh, but they became more widespread with the dominance of the IBM PC and MS-DOS system. Executable-infecting viruses are dependent on users exchanging software or boot-able floppies, so they spread rapidly in computer hobbyist circles.

The first worms, network-borne infectious programs, originated not on personal computers, but on multitasking Unix systems. The first well-known worm was the Internet Worm of 1988, which infected SunOS and VAX BSD systems. Unlike a virus, this worm did not insert itself into other programs. Instead, it exploited security holes (vulnerabilities) in network server programs and started itself running as a separate process. This same behaviour is used by today's worms as well.

With the rise of the Microsoft Windows platform in the 1990s, and the flexible macros of its applications, it became possible to write infectious code in the macro language of Microsoft Word and similar programs. These macro viruses infect documents and templates rather than applications (executables), but rely on the fact that macros in a Word document are a form of executable code.

Today, worms are most commonly written for the Windows OS, although a few like Mare-D[13] and the Lion worm[14] are also written for Linux and Unix systems. Worms today work in the same basic way as 1988's Internet Worm: they scan the network and leverage vulnerable computers to replicate. Because they need no human intervention, worms can spread with incredible speed. The SQL Slammer infected thousands of computers in a few minutes.[15]

Trojan horses

For a malicious program to accomplish its goals, it must be able to run without being shut down, or deleted by the user or administrator of the computer system on which it is running. Concealment can also help get the malware installed in the first place. When a malicious program is disguised as something innocuous or desirable, users may be tempted to install it without knowing what it does. This is the technique of the Trojan horse or trojan.

In broad terms, a Trojan horse is any program that invites the user to run it, concealing a harmful or malicious payload. The payload may take effect immediately and can lead to many undesirable effects, such as deleting the user's files or further installing malicious or undesirable software. Trojan horses known as droppers are used to start off a worm outbreak, by injecting the worm into users' local network.

One of the most common ways that spyware is distributed is as a Trojan horse, bundled with a piece of desirable software that the user downloads from the Internet. When the user installs the software, the spyware is installed alongside. Spyware authors who attempt to act in a legal fashion may include an end-user license agreement that states the behavior of the spyware in loose terms, which the users are unlikely to read or understand.
[edit] Rootkits

Once a malicious program is installed on a system, it is essential that it stays concealed, to avoid detection and disinfection. The same is true when a human attacker breaks into a computer directly. Techniques known as rootkits allow this concealment, by modifying the host's operating system so that the malware is hidden from the user. Rootkits can prevent a malicious process from being visible in the system's list of processes, or keep its files from being read. Originally, a rootkit was a set of tools installed by a human attacker on a Unix system, allowing the attacker to gain administrator (root) access. Today, the term is used more generally for concealment routines in a malicious program.

Some malicious programs contain routines to defend against removal, not merely to hide themselves, but to repel attempts to remove them. An early example of this behavior is recorded in the Jargon File tale of a pair of programs infesting a Xerox CP-V time sharing system:

Each ghost-job would detect the fact that the other had been killed, and would start a new copy of the recently slain program within a few milliseconds. The only way to kill both ghosts was to kill them simultaneously (very difficult) or to deliberately crash the system.[16]

Similar techniques are used by some modern malware, wherein the malware starts a number of processes that monitor and restore one another as needed. In the event a user running Microsoft Windows is infected with such malware, if they wish to manually stop it, they could use Task Manager's 'processes' tab to find the main process (the one that spawned the "resurrector process(es)"), and use the 'end process tree' function, which would kill not only the main process, but the "resurrector(s)" as well, since they were started by the main process. Some malware programs use other techniques, such as naming the infected file similar to a legitimate or trustworthy file (expl0rer.exe VS explorer.exe).
[edit] Backdoors

A backdoor is a method of bypassing normal authentication procedures. Once a system has been compromised (by one of the above methods, or in some other way), one or more backdoors may be installed in order to allow easier access in the future. Backdoors may also be installed prior to malicious software, to allow attackers entry.

The idea has often been suggested that computer manufacturers preinstall backdoors on their systems to provide technical support for customers, but this has never been reliably verified. Crackers typically use backdoors to secure remote access to a computer, while attempting to remain hidden from casual inspection. To install backdoors crackers may use Trojan horses, worms, or other methods.

Dialer

During the 1980s and 1990s, it was usually taken for granted that malicious programs were created as a form of vandalism or prank. More recently, the greater share of malware programs have been written with a profit motive (financial or otherwise) in mind. This can be taken as the malware authors' choice to monetize their control over infected systems: to turn that control into a source of revenue.

Spyware programs are commercially produced for the purpose of gathering information about computer users, showing them pop-up ads, or altering web-browser behavior for the financial benefit of the spyware creator. For instance, some spyware programs redirect search engine results to paid advertisements. Others, often called "stealware" by the media, overwrite affiliate marketing codes so that revenue is redirected to the spyware creator rather than the intended recipient.

Spyware programs are sometimes installed as Trojan horses of one sort or another. They differ in that their creators present themselves openly as businesses, for instance by selling advertising space on the pop-ups created by the malware. Most such programs present the user with an end-user license agreement that purportedly protects the creator from prosecution under computer contaminant laws. However, spyware EULAs have not yet been upheld in court.

Another way that financially motivated malware creators can profit from their infections is to directly use the infected computers to do work for the creator. The infected computers are used as proxies to send out spam messages. A computer left in this state is often known as a zombie computer. The advantage to spammers of using infected computers is they provide anonymity, protecting the spammer from prosecution. Spammers have also used infected PCs to target anti-spam organizations with distributed denial-of-service attacks.

In order to coordinate the activity of many infected computers, attackers have used coordinating systems known as botnets. In a botnet, the malware or malbot logs in to an Internet Relay Chat channel or other chat system. The attacker can then give instructions to all the infected systems simultaneously. Botnets can also be used to push upgraded malware to the infected systems, keeping them resistant to antivirus software or other security measures.

It is possible for a malware creator to profit by stealing sensitive information from a victim. Some malware programs install a key logger, which intercepts the user's keystrokes when entering a password, credit card number, or other information that may be exploited. This is then transmitted to the malware creator automatically, enabling credit card fraud and other theft. Similarly, malware may copy the CD key or password for online games, allowing the creator to steal accounts or virtual items.

Another way of stealing money from the infected PC owner is to take control of a dial-up modem and dial an expensive toll call. Dialer (or porn dialer) software dials up a premium-rate telephone number such as a U.S. "900 number" and leave the line open, charging the toll to the infected user.

05-18-2011 10:32 PM
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