We spend much of our time online performing sensitive tasks involving personal data. But the sad reality is that with the increase in computing technologies, criminals are becoming savvier in their methods. These criminals use various malicious software to steal your data, confidential company information, and anything else they can get their hands on.
Definition of Crimeware
Crimeware is software that is specifically designed to attack online computers (and in some cases, cell phones) and then steal their data by employing malicious software techniques.
Crimeware consists of malicious software (malware) and other tools that hackers use to accomplish these objectives. Crimeware tools are used primarily to steal sensitive data from a victim’s computer, view the user’s screen remotely, and conduct denial-of-service attacks. Many hackers use crimeware to steal personal information and gain exclusive control over victims’ computers.
A few years ago, most cyberattacks were executed to “sabotage” – to disable and compromise an organization’s computer systems. Crimeware is different because it’s used more and more as a tool for financial gain. What makes crimeware unique is that it comprises malicious software (malware) and other tools that hackers use to accomplish their objectives.
What Does a Crimeware Do?
Crimeware is a malicious software that has exclusive features to create problems like:
Steal confidential data from the victim’s computer, often employing man-in-the-middle attacks
Bringing down an entire network’s function by employing distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) or consuming all available bandwidth through a broadcast storm.
Compromise sensitive information such as trade secrets, user credentials, and financial data. This information can be used to commit identity theft and fraud.
Observe the victim’s computer activity remotely, such as keystrokes, websites visited, and user activities. This can be in the form of a Keylogger or Remote Access Trojan.
Types of Crimeware
Crimeware happens in different types. Below are some of the common types of crimeware:
This malicious software consists of programs that can steal your data and send the results back to a remote server. It can also infect other computers with malware. Spyware will often present itself as a helpful tool, such as a program that enables you to search for information on the Internet but will make it possible for criminals to read your confidential data, bank accounts, and credit card numbers.
A virus is malicious software spread from one computer to another using shared files, emails, or other means. Unlike spyware, viruses cannot be removed; they run continuously and infect other computers on their journey. A virus can also create a worm-like effect by propagating over the Internet. This can cause an even more comprehensive range of damage to the infected computer and networks.
A worm is another type of malicious software that spreads across the Internet by exploiting a vulnerability in the operating system. Worms can affect various devices, such as personal computers and servers. They are often used to spread other malware, viruses, spyware, and Trojan horses across the Internet.
A Trojan horse is a program that appears to be harmless but hides malicious software. It will often trigger a malicious activity when the user runs the program, such as copying files or transferring information to another computer without permission.
A Trojan horse does not replicate itself as a virus does. So it relies on tricking users into copying or downloading binaries from an unknown source, hoping that it’s not infected and will perform as advertised.
A Remote Access Trojan program is a malicious software program that gives illicit remote access to the infected computer and allows attackers to conduct activities, such as stealing sensitive data or monitoring keystrokes.
RATs allow an attacker to remotely access the victim through the Internet while allowing remote control of the victim’s computer. RATs can also be used to steal confidential information from infected computers.
Examples of Crimeware Attacks
Data encryption for ransom demand
Crimeware cyberattacks of this nature usually target organizations or businesses that use or process confidential data, such as credit card information, personal health information, and intellectual property.
These threats can be particularly harmful to the victim’s business because criminal hackers use crimeware to encrypt sensitive data and then demand a company pay a ransom to retrieve their data.
Redirecting a user to a counterfeit website
Crimeware can redirect a user who attempts to visit a legitimate website to a counterfeit one. This type of attack often affects user accounts, such as banking, email, or other sensitive services. The cyber criminal’s goal is to steal the victim’s login information or other confidential information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
Hijacking user sessions
Depending on the Trojan’s type of remote access, cybercriminals can gain unauthorized access to a user’s computer over the Internet. They can rearrange browser bookmarks or install an application that blocks any attempts at closing a browser. A RAT could also download malicious software on a user’s computer.
These cyber-attacks are used as a “weapon” by criminals to disrupt various services for financial gain or political purposes. An example of a DoS attack is when the cybercriminal takes control of many machines, called “bots,” and uses them to send large amounts of malicious data in the victim’s direction. This can saturate the bandwidth or bring down the victim’s website or server.
Knowing how to protect yourself is paramount in mitigating the risk and threat of crimeware cyber attacks. To do this, you need to be aware that crimeware is often conveyed as part of different types of documents and emails. For example, phishing emails have an attachment labeled as an invoice or other correspondence, but it contains malicious software.