Stealth Malware on the Horizon

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  • Written on: August 1st, 2006

As more and more big security players create products to help consumers rid their computers of Malware, the creators of the malware are incorporating a new tool into their arsenal – stealth.

It is estimated that 90% of all computers are infected with some degree of Malware (malware is a global term that encompasses spyware, adware, and scumware). Typically systems become infected when users install software programs from the Internet that contain the malware as an additional component.

At present, the delivery vehicle that installs the malware on a user’s computer remains behind after the infection is complete. This makes it easy to dissect it and release information on how to prevent the delivery vehicle from deploying the malware in the first place. But the days of easy removal instructions may be coming to a close as a new strain of malware threats is waiting in the wings.

However, malware authors are beginning to take steps to delete the delivery vehicle once the malware is installed. Without the delivery vehicle available for study, the user will notice what the malware is doing, but will have no idea how it was installed on the system. That means that anti-spyware software can be updated to remove the malware, but will not be able to prevent the infection from recurring.

Stealth malware threats promise to bring a whole new level of attacks into the more secure world of Windows Vista. Windows Vista has a host of built-in anti-malware features that are too numerous and technical to be detailed here. However, once Vista is widely adopted and available for study, malware authors will begin to unleash this new generation of “smart” malware.

People sometimes ask me if there will ever be a single program that will prevent all malware and get rid of this problem for good. The bottom line is that will probably never happen, as this digital arms race between those who secure the Internet and those who terrorize it continues on a day to day basis.

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