• Timothy Lord

Worms, Viruses, Trojans, and Bots, oh my!

Worms, Viruses, Trojans, and Bots: Their Differences

Malicious software is a kind of software that is created to damage, steal or cause any type of disorder or disturbance in the computer network. Also known as malware, they inflict illegitimate action on data or on computer systems. There are different types of malicious software – and the most common ones are Worms, Viruses, Trojans, and Bots. Although their chief intent is to infect computer systems, these types of malicious software all have different structures and have different ways to cause disturbances. Here are their differences:

  • Worms

Worms have the ability to self-replicate, creating functional copies that cause damage. They are standalone software, so they don’t require a host program to multiply. It enters a computer through system vulnerability. It usually exploits a system’s file-transport or information-transport features, letting it spread unaided. Worms can spread in two ways: first, it exploits a weakness on the target system. Second, they use social engineering, which elicits information from groups or individuals and tricks them in order to gain unauthorized access.

  • Viruses

Viruses are all man-made. They can also replicate themselves, and they keep on multiplying within the system. Compared to worms that are standalone software, viruses use a host program or a human user to propagate. What it does it is it produces and inserts a copy of itself in order to become part of another program. Viruses can spread from one computer to another, causing various intensities of damage from making your system very slow, damaging files, or even causing denial-of-service conditions.

  • Trojans

Named after the story of how the Greeks destroyed Troy with a wooden horse, Trojans can cause a lot of harm. It initially looks legitimate, and users are usually deceived into loading and executing them on their systems. Unlike viruses and worms, Trojans only spread when users run or download any file from the internet or from an email attachment. Once Trojans are activated into systems, it becomes very difficult to use it. This malware does a number of things: it can delete or steal files, it can irritate the user changing desktops or popping up windows, or it can even activate or spread other malware.

  • Bots

Derived from “robot”, bots are automated, interacting with other network services that would otherwise be done by a human user. Bots can be useful or malicious. It is useful when it is used to gather information, such as web crawlers, or to interact with websites. A malicious bot, on the other hand, is created to contaminate a host and then link back to a central server. A malicious bot is self-propagating, and it can be very dangerous because it has the ability to collect users’ financial information and passwords, launch Denial-of-Service attacks, and relay spam. Bots can replicate itself and spread and just like worms, can enter a computer through a file-transportation medium. However, it is generally more flexible and can be modified within hours of publication.

Can smartphones get them?

Smartphones can be infected by malicious malware. In fact with the increase in usage of smartphones, there has been an increased number of Here are some of the most common ways for smartphones to get infected:

1. When a user downloads an app that has malware embedded within the code.

These are seemingly legitimate apps, even apps that claim to be mobile antivirus programs. Once the app is installed, malware infects the operating system of the smartphone.

2. It can be sent through email.

It is possible for an email to be infected by malware, particularly when the user opens an infected attachment on their smartphone.

3. It can be embedded in websites that a user visits while surfing the web.

4. Clicking on pop-ads while browsing the internet.

5. Clicking on unverified links sent through SMS, Viber, or WhatsApp messages.

In order to protect your smartphone from getting infected, download apps only from reputable sources. It is also possible to download and install an anti-malware app for your device.

How will you know if your device is infected?

There are some signs that your smartphone may be infected by malware:

  • The frequent appearance of pop-ups

If there is an increased appearance of invasive pop-ups on your phone, it may be infected with malware. These pop-ups are usually for products and services that are suspicious, which when clicked may lead to more damage.

  • An increase in data usage

If you notice a rapid depletion of data, your phone can be infected. Malicious bugs usually use the phone’s data source to show advertisements or send information from your phone.

Apps that suddenly crash

When an app suddenly crashes and it happens more than once, you may have a virus. Viruses tamper with the regular operations of your smartphone.

  • Fast-draining battery

When you notice that your battery runs out faster than usual or the battery drains out suddenly, it may be a sign of malware.

What is the best way to protect yourself?

1. Know what you are clicking on

Far too often people rush to get to their content, whether it be a Facebook post, an email or a new article; people rush and click through popups or on links that they did not read or fully understand. Malware can be spread through a tactic referred to as "drive-by downloads" or "drive-by clicking. By definition, one or both elements must be satisfied.

  • The software is downloaded by a person who does not fully understand what actions are being performed by the software.

  • The user has willingly downloaded the software under false pretenses.

2. Use antivirus software

The use of antivirus software must be thoroughly evaluated no matter what type of device you are utilizing. Both Macs and PCs can be affected by malware, so can smartphones. Think of this much like a life-jacket. You may know how to swim, but one day you might need it. When you do, it will save the day!

3. Keep software up to date

Keeping your Operating System and antivirus software up to date is a simple task that can keep your system safe and operating at peak performance. Unfortunately, complacency often gets the better of us. This task continues to get pushed back until it is too late and the damage is already done. Keeping everything up to date also ensures you are protected against bugs or malware recently discovered.

4. Perform regular backups

Backups are vital in today's digital world. As our more of our everyday lives are migrated to the digital realm the greater the importance of backups. Far too often people delay performing such measures and later regret those choices. Ask yourself, how much is your data worth to you? Do you have pictures of your wedding, birthday parties, videos of the last time loved ones were with us? Is any of that data located in other backups? Treat your data as precious, as it is! Recovering data can be a costly endeavor that doesn't always work. Are you willing to risk your memories to those chances?

5. Educate yourself on what is out there.

The most important part of all of this is user awareness. Much like in the health care field, practitioners understand that the more the patient is aware of their situation, the better the likelihood of achieving their end goal. This practice is just as vital in the digital world. When end users are educated they understand what behaviors put their devices and in some cases their identities at risk. There is no need to go over-board with trying to learn everything there is to know, however, a little knowledge can and will go a long way in keeping you safe and your devices running smooth.

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