As time goes by, there are more and more security threats to our precious software. In this electronic world, there are many dangers, from simple and annoying spam programs to complex and scary viruses. The main question is – how can I, as a software developer, deal with all of those threats? The question is simple, but the answer varies. How can you as a software developer deal with all of those threats depends on your knowledge of a certain programming language, your experience, and the complexity of a program you are writing. That question is too complex for this article, but there are some basics you need to know. You need to know the difference between various kinds of threats. Also, you should know what different malicious programs are for, and which are more dangerous than the others. So, without further ado, let’s begin!
One of the best-known threats to every software is a virus. Your average Joe will call everything a virus, from adware and spyware to rootkit. But it is not so hard to explain the function of a computer virus. If we wish to make a parallel to the real world, a computer virus is not so different from the real one. Basically, a computer virus is a code that has the ability to replicate and infect other programs and computers. There are many ways one can ‘catch’ a virus. Viruses can be transmitted through a USB stick, through a malicious website, through a torrent, and so on. Basically, through every way you can transport data. And by definition, a computer virus is a kind of program that, when someone or something executes it, has the ability to replicate its own code through modifying other computer programs.
A worm is a specific kind of computer virus. Actually, it is a standalone malware computer program that, like a virus, replicates itself in order to spread to other machines. Unlike a basic virus, its goal, usually, is to slow down the computer and the network traffic of interconnected computers.
Most worms are designed only to spread. They almost always cause harm to a network, usually by consuming bandwidth. And this is usually the intention of a worm creator – to disrupt the normal flow of information in a network by increasing network traffic. They can overflow the hard disk space or a memory of a computer, or even the whole systems. Victims of a worm attack usually notice that their computers are running slower than usual. Computers can even crash under a worm attack. This is why it is advisable to get in touch with professional software development companies like Frontech Solutions Inc.
One of the most common ways of accessing a resource in an unauthorized way is a privilege escalation. Software programs can have many bugs that can be exploited. These bugs can be used by a program or by a user to gain access to protected information like passwords. Many computer systems are designed, by software developers, to be used by many users, or to be more precise, by multiple user accounts. Each and every one of them has the abilities known as privileges. In most cases, common privileges include viewing and editing files, adding files, and so on. But sometimes, there can be a bug that can be exploited by someone who shouldn’t have those privileges.
The trojan horse often called simply – Trojan, is any computer program, or more specifically malware, which misleads users of its true intent. All of us know about the Trojan horse through history lessons – a wooden horse that has been built by Greeks in order to deceive and attack the opposing side – Trojans. And that is the true purpose of a Trojan – to deceive and attack unsuspicious users. Trojan horse masquerades as a valid computer program. Unlike viruses and worms, Trojans don’t try to inject themselves into some file or propagate themselves in any way. Usually, Trojans spread through psychological manipulation (social engineering). Their mission is to allow remote access to a victim’s computer. Usually, their purpose is to catch passwords and credit card numbers of unsuspecting victims.
Admittedly, people often see spam as the least harmful malicious software. The act of spamming is the use of a messaging system to send some unwanted messages. Through the act of spamming, people or programs made by people advertise, send links to suspicious software, offer ‘quick cash’, and so on. In the early days of e-mail, spam was sent almost entirely through the e-mail. There are better and more legal solutions you can use today for automatic e-mail advertising.
Today, you can find spam almost anywhere – on social networks, blogs, comments, and so on and on. Simply put, spam is unsolicited junk mail. The problem with spam is that it is annoying, but there are ways to stop it. You can ban some keywords. While that is effective in the short term, people can easily find a way around that ban. There is a way of not allowing users to send multiple messages in a short period of time, or to too many users at once. Spam can also cause some technical problems. For example, spam messaging can consume network bandwidth. Especially if you are running a program that is used by many users simultaneously. This is why spam is one of the greatest security threats for software. And it is very unethical and illegal to use it. There are better ways – like customer service marketing strategy.
Spyware is a broad category of malicious software. Its purpose is to gather information about the person or about the organization and send that sensitive information to another entity. Spyware can be classified into four different types – adware, system monitors, tracking cookies, and Trojans. We already said something about Trojans, and we will say something more about adware. Spyware usually invades computer systems through software downloads. Other ways of contracting spyware are – freeware and shareware downloads, and peer-to-peer file sharing. More often than not, spyware is also used as an advertising tool, usually by illegitimate companies.
Adware is a kind of spyware. The main purpose of this kind of spyware is to target the display of web advertisements better. Like any spyware, the intent of adware is to observe user’s internet browsing habits. It makes revenue for its author by automatically generating online advertisements in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user after, before, or during the installation process. Sometimes, adware is used to boost the value of a website.
You have probably seen adware before. Those pop-up windows and those unclosable windows are usually adware. If they are trying to make you click some link, or if they are trying to make you buy something, more often than not, it is an adware program.
A rootkit is one of the most malicious software. It is one of the worst security threats to software. The main purpose of rootkit is to enable access to a computer (or to some software) that is not otherwise allowed. It is a malicious program that enables privileged remote access to software while hiding its existence from an administrator. They are very difficult to detect, and they are activated before the boot-up of a system. That means that rootkit is activated before the antivirus. They allow the installation of files, and they can intercept sensitive information.