What are Internet Worms and why are they so dangerous?

We no longer hear much about internet worms, but they are still an important part of system malware.

But what are worms, how do they spread and how are they used by hackers?


Internet worms are spreading like parasites in the real world

Worms, unlike viruses or trojans, exploit a computer's pre-existing security vulnerabilities at the operating system level. Worms are also standalone software or files and are usually spread over a network of computers (for example, your home or work network), rather than through software downloads.

The operation of an Internet Worm is similar to that of a real parasite. An internet worm replicates itself on as many servers as possible without attempting to cause any serious damage.

A worm will not corrupt your files or your computer. A Worm will slow down a computer or network by absorbing hardware resources or Internet bandwidth.

However, some Worms carry malicious payloads (code that makes your computer vulnerable to other malicious programs). As Worms can be quietly (and safely) replicated on networks, they do a great job of large-scale virus attacks or ransomware attacks  in governments and businesses.

Modern Internet Worms usually carry payloads

By themselves, Worms are mostly harmless. Sure, they slow down computers and turn high-speed networks into slow ones, but compared to viruses that destroy files and ransomware causing damage of hundreds of thousands of dollars , Worms are absolutely nothing. This happens unless Worm has a payload.

Rarely do hackers create worms without payload. Remember, worms target system vulnerabilities. In the age of frequent software updates, these vulnerabilities change every week. Now, when a hacker spreads a worm, tech companies know there is an operating system vulnerability. Once technology companies detect the worm through internal tests or reports from antivirus companies, they respond immediately by repairing the vulnerability that strikes the worm.

So instead of wasting a very good system vulnerability on a worm, modern hackers focus their efforts on large-scale payloads attacks. The Mydoom Worm 2004, for example, contained a payload RAT, which allowed hackers to gain access to infected computers remotely. As the worms spread over networks, hackers gained access to many different computers and used that access to launch DDOS attacks on their website. SCO Group .

In the past, when system vulnerabilities were high and updates were rare, worms without any payload prevailed. These worms were easy to set up even by novice hackers and usually just slow down the computers to frustrate the average user.

And while some of these worms like Worm Morris , created to raise awareness of software vulnerabilities, have had the unintended effect of slowing down computers.

Worms are easy to avoid

Theoretically, worms should be harder to avoid than most other malware.

Worms can move through a network without your knowledge, and viruses and trojans must be downloaded manually on a computer. Due to frequent system updates and built-in antivirus software, you do not have to worry too much about worms.

Just update your operating system and antivirus program (enable automatic updates) and you will be fine. If you are still using Windows XP, Windows 7  who no longer receive new updates you may have a problem!

You can get a worm by downloading some software or even opening an infected email attachment. If you want to protect yourself from malware (including worms), do not download files or open email attachments from sources you do not trust.

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Use Anti-Virus to protect and secure your computer

Windows computers have trusted Windows Defender antivirus software. It may automatically scan your computer for viruses, but it's worth running manually to make sure.

Sure, hackers can create malware that bypasses antivirus software, but they rarely waste this malware on small companies and individuals. Dangerous payload worms are usually intended for large companies, governments and wealthy entrepreneurs. If an antivirus program does not detect worms, then you are probably not at risk.

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