Malicious Software Threats

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Book Chapter

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Malware, Malicious software

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Malicious software, or malware for short, is software designed with a nefarious intent of harming the computer user. There are many types of malware, depending on how they are spread and the nature of harm they intend. Some examples of malware include – viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, keyloggers, botnets, rootkits, ransomware, scareware, and drive-by downloads. To date, over a million different viruses and other malware have been detected. Some have caused significant damage to individuals and organizations, sometimes in the order of billions of US dollars. Some notable viruses, in chronological order, include the Morris worm in 1988, the Melissa virus in 1999, the ILOVEYOU virus in 2000, the Anna Kournikova virus in 2001, The code Red worm in 2001, the Slammer virus in 2003, the Mydoom worm in 2004, the Sasser and Netsky worms in 2004, the Storm worm in 2007, the Mirai malware in 2016, and the WannaCry ransomware in 2017. The malware with the most damage known to date have been the Sasser and Netsky worms with an estimated damage of $31 billion. Sometimes, even governments tend to use malware for espionage and other political motives. Malware can be prevented by using appropriate security software such as firewalls, antivirus software, and antispyware. In addition, researchers have employed criminological theories, in particular, self-control and routine activity theories, to determine factors that may increase the risks of malware infection victimization. The extant evidence indicates that irresponsible use of the Internet, such as failing to use a security software or clicking on questionable websites, can also lead to malware infection victimization. Accordingly, to effectively address malware, the technical aspects of the problem as well as the human side of the issue must be jointly considered and targeted. Malware developers are getting smarter in terms of their ability to develop malware that goes undetected by antimalware software, and antimalware developers need to constantly remain innovative to combat smarter malware.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Malicious Software Threats, in T. J. Holt & A. Bossler (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of International Cybercrime and Cyberdeviance, Palgrave Macmillan, p. 793-813