Malicious software is coded with the intention of harming its target. Affecting private and corporate users alike, it can steal information, damage data, hijack website visits and spy on internet activity. Fraudulent redirection of internet banking users is an increasingly frequent form of attack.
Malware can hide inside innocuous-looking software (trojans), or spread between machines without relying on user interaction (worms). It can be custom-designed to evade defences and execute specific tasks.
Once inadvertently installed, malware can carry out many activities unseen. It may spy on website visits, destroy data, or piece together passwords. Increasingly, it’s being used by criminals to encrypt important business information until the organisation pays a ‘ransom’. Internet banking users might also be redirected to fake sites which record their login data to enable financial theft.
Malware is usually delivered via email ‘phishing’ or fraudulent links. Malicious apps and USB memory sticks can also compromise smartphones and computers respectively. Malware can stay hidden for months until activated.