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Malware and Computer Worms

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Carson Kosco

Malware is malicious software that gains access to your computer to cause harm and destroy your system. Malware can present itself in many forms such as viruses, Trojan horses, worms, adware, spyware, and ransomware. All forms of malware are designed to compromise the safety of your devices and the data stored on them. This might allow hackers to access your personal data and, in some cases, use that data to commit identity theft, cause damage, or corrupt the system for financial gain.   

Worms are a type of self-replicating malware that spreads itself quietly over a network of computers which leaves those computers at risk for other harmful malicious software. Whereas other threats to IT Security, such as phishing scams, use social engineering to hack into a system, a worm, much like their real-life wiggly counterparts, find seams in the computer’s operating system that allow itself to install and replicate.  It also then can follow known holes in networking and file transfer protocols.  

However, because these vulnerabilities in an operating system are patched by vendors with relative frequency, the code written for worms often have a short shelf life.   

Simply put, Malware is a whole can of worms that you don’t want to open.  (We apologize for this pun, but we couldn’t resist.) 

Possible Signs of Malware of Worm Infection 

  • Strange ads or pop-up windows, even when you’re not surfing the web. 
  • Unwanted changes to your browsers’ behavior 
  • Changes to your browser’s homepage 
  • Slower overall experience on your computer 
  • Sudden lack of storage space 
  • Ads with flashing colors, or are difficult to close, that block what you are trying to view. 
  • Firewall warnings 
  • Programs opening and running automatically. 
  • Freezing/Crashing 
  • Missing, modified, or unfamiliar files 

Examples of Famous Malware and Worms 

  • Morris Worm which was launched by Robert Morris in 1988 by accident to decipher the size of the internet. This caused a major slowdown of about 6,000 computers on the ARPANET network mostly targeting Unix OS. 
  • Blaster Worm was a Windows worm that launched DDoS attacks against Microsoft's own servers and infected as many as two billion computers in 2003. 
  • Stuxnet Worm was developed by US and Israeli intelligence in 2010 that targeted Iran’s nuclear program and set it back years. 
  • Emotet Trojan Malware became famous in 2018 after the US Dept of Homeland Security defined it as one of the most dangerous pieces of malware due to its widespread use in cases of financial theft, specifically of bank logins and cryptocurrencies. 

How to Remove Malware or Worms from Your Computer  

We recommend consulting an IT Professional for help with Malware removal to ensure that it is done thoroughly and properly. Pim services, specifically our business IT solutions (bits) package, can help prevent malware infections by installing Sophos Anti-Virus Protection which detects the presence of malware on your PC. With Sophos, we can run scans on your PC and attachments to see if malicious threats or behavior are present and clean those threats if found.  Additionally, we make sure that your operating systems remain up to date, thus reducing OS vulnerability 


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