Malware is any malicious software purposefully created to cause damage to a machine, software, server, computer network, or customer. There are a wide array of different malware types, including worms, Trojan Horses, rundll errors, encryption programs, file, and program remover utilities, and spam. Malware can be executed by the computer user or can be downloaded by an internet user on a shared network. It can also be transmitted via email, instant message, pager, CD, USB drive, video, or game download. Malware can be hidden inside a website or appear to be something else when viewed in Internet Explorer or Firefox.
Many kinds of Malware exist today and include worms, Trojan Horses, viruses, and others. Worms are malicious software that destroys data by changing the computer system’s boot sector, usually resulting in data loss. A Trojan horse is a self-contained infectious application that can install itself on the computer without the knowledge of the user or installed system administrators. A virus is a self-replicating program that spreads through networks by crashing bugs in email servers, malicious websites, and executable files. Worms and viruses spread through email attachments, chat room conversations, instant messaging and computer-gaming networks.
Malware writers develop Malware to make money by selling it to online retailers and malicious software publishers. These cybercriminals are also known as “phishers” due to the malicious nature of their operations. Most malware writers make personal use of free scanning software to create virus signatures that appear to be harmless to anti-malware programs such as Windows antivirus and anti-spyware programs. Unfortunately, these harmless signature files often cause massive damage to the operating system and may deny the operating system to load-critical system files, resulting in the Malware infection. In many cases, users have to reformat the hard drive, reinstall the operating system, and take other corrective actions in order to rid the operating system of the Malware.
The most common types of Malware include:
Trojan horses (also known as “worms”), computer viruses, back door tools, keyloggers, and key speakers. While each of these malware types may be unique, they all have one thing in common: they attempt to gain unauthorized access into a system. This access is usually gained by manipulating software that is either installed or uninstalled. Typical methods of entry include: installing unknown desktop icons or programs, deleting system files, changing system settings, gaining administrator privileges, installing or removing suspicious emails, sending out phishing emails or spam, and leaking out financial or personal information.
Macs are susceptible to Malware attacks just like all other computers.
The latest versions of the XCode and iOS SDKs include security safeguards against Malware because of the way they work with certificates and digital signatures. However, many people have had their systems’ Malware exploited by users downloading fake applications or installing Trojans onto their computers. As a result of the popularity of the Mac, it is surprisingly easy for Malware to spread from one Mac to another even when the infected machines have been cleaned of infected files by trusted professionals.
While there are several ways to protect a Mac against such attacks, the best method is to prevent the installation of applications or scripts that could compromise it. One way to detect if you have been infected is to perform an online virus scan with an application that detects malicious codes. Another way is to install an application that detects malicious codes and warns you before installation. Some malicious applications will also change some system files so that they can try and infect your Mac when it is not connected to the internet. However, the easiest way to protect your Mac against malicious code attacks is to avoid downloading anything from a strange source, or using remote access software to enter sensitive data on a Mac that you do not own.
What makes Malware dangerous to your Mac? Common characteristics of Malware include the ability to spread extremely quickly, perform multiple tasks, and perform automatically. Since many malware programs have these characteristics, they can spread rapidly through the network or host environment. They also tend to be less sophisticated than typical viruses, which means that the average user will not be able to detect them or protect themselves from the damage that they can do.
- The two most common ways to distribute and install Malware on a Mac are downloading from wireless malware sites and opening infectious email attachments.
- Since wireless malware is not detected by popular search engines and cannot be traced back to their authors, it can easily spread on the Internet without the user’s knowledge.
- This is why it is extremely important to only open emails from people you know or trust.