How does a RAT work? Why do hackers use them and how do you avoid them?
RATs give hackers remote access to your computer
If you have ever had to call remote technical support for a computer, then you are probably familiar with the "magic" of remote access. When enabled, authorized computers and servers can control what is happening on your computer. They can open documents, download software or even move the cursor on your screen in real time.
RAT is a type of malware that is very similar to regular remote access programs. The main difference is that the RATs are installed on a computer without the owner knowing.
Most legitimate remote access programs are built for technical support and file sharing, while RATs are created for espionage, piracy or computer destruction.
Like most malware, RAT comes to your computer disguised as unsuspecting files. Hackers can attach a RAT to a document and send it via email or in a large software package, such as a video game.
Ads and malicious websites may also contain RAT, but most browsers block automatic downloads from sites or alert you when a site is unsafe.
Unlike some malware and viruses, it can be more difficult to tell when you have downloaded a RAT. In general, a RAT will not slow down your computer and hackers will not betray you by deleting your files or rotating the cursor on the screen. In some cases, RAT-infected computers are monitored for years without anyone noticing anything suspicious.
Rats work best when they go unnoticed
Most computer viruses are created for a single purpose. The Keyloggers automatically record what you type, the ransomware restricts access to your computer or its files until you pay a ransom and adware bombards you ads to win the attacker.
RATs are unique in their use. They give hackers complete and anonymous control of infected computers. As you can imagine, a hacker using a RAT can do anything, as long as his goal is not to suspect it.
In most cases, RATs are used like spyware. A malicious hacker can use a RAT to retrieve files from an infected computer. What a user enters, but also files that could contain bank details, passwords, sensitive photos or private conversations.
In addition, with RAT one can discreetly activate the webcam or microphone of a computer.
RATs give hackers administrator access to infected computers. So they are free to modify or download files. This means they can erase your hard drive, download illegal content from the Internet through your computer, or install additional malware on your computer. They can also remotely control your computer to commit illegal Internet activity on your behalf or use your home network as a proxy for crime.
A hacker can also use a RAT to take control of a home network and set up a botnet. In essence, a botnet allows you to use your computer resources for illegal tasks, such as attacks DDOS, Bitcoin mining (PDF) , file hosting and torrent. Sometimes, this technique is used by hacker groups for cybercrime. One botnet consisting of thousands of computers can generate a lot of Bitcoin or "throw" sites with DDOS attacks.
Do not worry. Rats are easy to avoid
If you want to avoid a RAT, do not download files from sources you do not trust. You should not open email attachments from strangers, you should not download games or software from strange websites, and you should not download torrent files unless they come from a trusted source. Keep your browser and operating system up to date with all security updates.
Of course, you also need to enable anti-virus software. The Windows Defender included in your computer is an excellent antivirus software.
Use Anti-Virus to find potential RAT
If you have not noticed any strange activity on your computer or some theft of your credentials, then you are probably safe. Of course it never hurts to check your computer for RAT at regular intervals.
Most malicious users use known RATs (instead of developing their own). So antivirus software is the best (and easiest) way to find and remove RAT from your computer.
If you have scanned with anti-virus, but still suspect that there is RAT on your computer, then you could format.
It's a very radical solution, but it has a 100% success rate - unless some malware has infiltrated UEFI hardware of your computer.
New RATs that cannot be detected by antivirus software are usually intended for use by large companies, famous, government and wealthy businessmen. If your antivirus software does not detect RAT, then you probably do not.