Malware and Its Impact

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Today, it is common to get into a situation where you urgently needed to access your files, but for some reason, the files were damaged, encrypted or in some case ‘chewed’ up without your knowledge. That is what happens when your computer, laptop or mobile device gets corrupted with malware. Some people have had far worse troubles when attacked by malware, by having their identity stolen. The internet is no longer safe as it were years ago. Malware has intensified and is in all corners of the internet. By simply navigating through the internet, your computer is at the risk of getting infected by malware. In this paper, we explore the evil that is malware and how it continues to impose security concerns and threats in our day to day life.

Description of Malware

The term malware refers to malicious software. It is a collective term for viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other malicious software that can infect your computer. It takes the form of code, content, scripts, and even genuine software to obtain access to your computer and the personal data and files in it (Bettany, 2017). Whatever form and type of malware, they all exploit existing vulnerabilities in your computer to gain entry for various reasons. One may ask where this harmful software originate from since they have been prevalent especially in this 21st century. Cybercriminals, malicious hackers, and pranksters write and develop these malicious applications for different reasons. Some do it to just to see the impact these malicious programs can bring, to gather information they may want, or source money from their victims (Niemela, 2016). For instance, an attacker may gain access to a personal computer and use malware to steal valuable information like credit card information, email addresses, and passwords. They then assume the identity of their victims.

History of Malware

The crisis of malware attacks dates back to the 1900s. Since malware has evolved from being a mild nuisance to a significant threat, it has become an issue tackled by both the government and individuals. It has evolved into the networks and is today seen to affect businesses and organizations majorly. The possibility of writing a program that is capable of replicating itself without the need for human intervention began in the early ages of computing. During the times of John von Neumann, the viruses involved competed with one another for system resources. In 1971, a program was written with the intention of not harming but for fun spread to computers connected to the APARNET, today’s internet. It was called ‘Creeper’ (Patten, 2017). That saw the development of other programs such as Elk Cloner. During the 80s, boot sector viruses popped up. They spread by infected floppy disks. Two Pakistan developed one virus that hit during this time bothers called ‘Brain.’ They developed this virus with the intention of proving to the world that the personal computers existing at the time were not secure. Another one was the Jerusalem virus that showed up in 1987. This virus copied itself to part of the MS-DOS operating system and on Friday the 13th deleted every file that had been previously executed. The Morris worm followed in the year 1988, which resulted from a bug in some code. It infected machines over and over.

Trojans later followed in 1989. Going into the 90s presented new troubles. Towards the end of the 90s, the internet was entering a period of fast growth. It also meant another level of destruction from the malware. The Melissa virus is one that marks this period, and many will live to remember. It spread majorly by hijacking peoples’ emails and contact lists. It is during this time that people got more educated about protecting themselves from malware attacks. People were warned against opening mail attachments from sources they do not know (Wright 2017). Melissa was followed by the ‘I LOVE YOU WORM.’ That was by far the most destructive worm of all times. The idea of viruses and worms was becoming more and more common. They caused more troubles by deleting personal files and corrupting operating systems. However, this malware at the time had a little impact despite the destructions.

Technologies Involved

Later, malware such as adware and spyware has come in. These provided more potential for malware as a big money-spinner. Spyware ends up in a person’s machine through a browser or vulnerabilities from a flash. Once downloaded into the machine, it has the potential to capture passwords and more. Adware results from advertising that pops up during a browsing experience. From here, hackers evolved their techniques and shifted their focus to developing botnets that they use for sending spam and directing denial of service attacks (DOS) or DDOS (Kangas, 2016). Malware, since the times of the early 2010s, underwent a significant shift whereby it remained undetected in the face of the growing efforts of antivirus. Emails were no longer the prime mode of infection, and the internet provides a vast possibility of points of attack. Also, the availability of multiple versions of windows and each presented its type of flaws. That offered the opportunity for malware to grow and be used to manipulate data, systems, and networks.

Future Trends

Malware has proven to be the most vicious evil in the world of computing. Cybercrimes are a never-ending headache. In recent years, cases of significant ransomware have been reported. The latest being the WannaCry that was experienced recently. It is reported to be by far the highest profile attack experienced. This where an attacker gains access to your computer system and does some encryption to your data. It denies the user access to their data. The attacker then asks for money from their victims so that they can recover their data. The current trend taken by these malicious attackers is where they incorporate malware with the aspect of social engineering, through methods such as phishing. We had moved from the days when viruses and worms were written for fun or for the intention of pranking users that do not suspect their existence.


Despite the overwhelming troubles being imposed by this malware of today, we lay our hopes in the anti-malware solutions that exist and are continuously being developed. Some of the measures are left in the hands of the user to make efforts to mitigate the risks involved. That could include steps such as inputting strong passwords in their devices that are impossible to guess, running anti-malware software on computer systems and making use of firewalls (Mittal, 2015). Also, users should learn not trust people with information they hold private because there is no telling what these people can do with the information provided to them. That is what is referred to as the 90-10 rule in computer security, where 90% of security safeguards are upon the user while 10% of the security safeguards are technical (Wright, 2017). When users follow this, the impacts of these attacks can be less felt. Taking a look at the future of malware, it is impossible to tell where or how the attacks will be propagated. But one thing is clear, as far as technology continues to evolve and hence attackers will continue to innovate new ways of maliciously extending this vice.


Bettany, A., & Hasley, M. (2017). What Is Malware?. In Windows Virus and Malware Troubleshooting (pp. 1-8). Apress, Berkeley, CA.

Mittal, I. P. S. (2015). Perspectives in Cyber Security, the future of cyber malware.

Niemela, J., Hypponen, M., & Kangas, S. (2016). U.S. Patent No. 9,501,644. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Patten, D. (2017). The evolution of fileless malware. Retrieved from. Wright, L. (2017). Managing Cyber Security. In People, Risk, and Security (pp. 73-89).

Palgrave Macmillan, London.

September 04, 2023


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