• What is Malware? And How is Web-Malware Different?

    The word malware has been used often in recent times. However, what does malware actually mean? There is a lot of confusion among Internet users and others about what malware really is and what a piece of computer software branded as malware really does?

    In this short article, we will explain what malware is and what some of the differences are between viruses and malware, the new age avatars of these malicious pieces of computer code.

    What is malware?
    Malware is defined as malicious computer code that can harm your computer, steal personal information and enable malicious individuals to cause you financial, electronic or any other kind of harm. Computer programs written by malicious hackers, designed to steal your passwords and cause havoc on your computers is liberally termed as malware. Some of the most famous pieces of malware were the I love you virus and the Stuxnet worm.

    How is Web-Malware different?
    Web-Malware is a relatively new phenomenon. Hackers have realized that with the proliferation of websites in the Internet, there is a ripe medium to spread malware to millions of computers. Malicious hackers are infecting websites with web-malware regularly. More than 6,000 new websites fall prey to web malware attacks every single day.

    Web-Malware is malware written using Web 2.0 languages such as Javascript and PHP. These languages are used to power websites and provide the functionality that we have all become so used to, such as drop down menus, dynamic tag clouds and others. Malicious hackers have taken to using these languages to construct new types of malware. One of the benefits of using Web 2.0 languages to create web-malware is the principle of “write once run everywhere”, basically of writing a piece of malware once and more or less ensuring that it executes on most browsers all across the world.

    What does Web-Malware do differently than malware?
    Web-malware focuses on browser based vulnerabilities unlike standard viruses and trojans that focus on operating system level vulnerabilities. Web-malware also tends to redirect unsuspecting users away from a compromised site to a website that might host a phishing page, pretending to be a bank or sales company of some sort. Web-malware can also exploit compromised hosting account to start spam campaigns and send out millions of fake emails to users everywhere. Furthermore, web-malware can also act as an end point in bot networks like Zeus and koobface. Web-malware does not focus per se on harming the file system of the infected website, hosting account, but on exploiting it for gain. Web-malware does not focus on retrieving contacts from an address book in order to spam them, unlike some viruses and trojans.

    Some Examples
    Please see below some examples of traditional malware and web-malware that is different than standard viruses and trojans.

    A piece of shell code being decompiled:

    Web Malware – looks very different from a virus (above):

    How do I protect my site?
    Malicious hackers are constantly changing their tactics in order to evade detection and to continue to infect unsuspecting users. It is imperative to keep up-to-date on the latest ways that infections are spreading to legitimate websites.

    StopTheHacker customers are protected against these kind of threats. If you would like more information on how to protect your website, please feel free to visit our feature page.

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