Types of Computer Worms

Instructor: David Gloag
Malware is a hot topic these days. Home, and business, computers seem to be attacked on a regular basis. In this lesson, we'll take a look at a specific example, worms, and identify the various types. At the end of the lesson, you should have a good understanding of this invasive technology.

The Sophisticated Nature of Data

We apply gathered data to most things we do today. And why not? Data helps us learn things we didn't already know. Imagine if Wendy's didn't use data to predict the eating habits of their customers. Would their menu change regularly to offer new choices? Would your local concert promoter bring in your favorite bands if they didn't poll their customer base? Not likely.

With each question asked, the desire to get more and more from the data increases. That only makes sense. It also follows then that there will be people, and organizations, that want to disrupt that ability. Think of terrorist groups like ISIS that want to destroy intelligence on their activities, companies that want to eliminate competitive advantage, or individuals that just do it for kicks. One of the ways they do this is through the use of malware, or more specifically, worms.

What is Malware?

Malware is the high-level term used to describe a variety of nasty software programs. Examples include viruses which infect other programs, trojans which hide other problems within themselves, and worms which we'll talk about in a moment. The objective of this type of software is to create havoc in the target system or systems. They do so by consuming computer resources; things like memory, processing power, hard disk space, or files. The end result is that files can go missing, or the computer in question becomes less and less responsive. In the worst case, it can even stop working.

What is a Computer Worm?

A computer worm is a specific type of malware. It is a stand-alone software program that copies itself, in a process known as replication, and spreads to other computers connected via a network. Worms reside in active memory, and can perform a variety of tasks. Things like collecting data and copying or deleting files immediately come to mind. A good real-life example is a military sniper. This person covertly infiltrates an area of interest, and creates havoc by eliminating selected targets. Think of this like deleting a specific file on a computer. The net result is that the target can no longer perform her/his intended task, and the ability of the area to continue with business-as-usual decreases. Once complete, the sniper simply moves on to the next area of interest.

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