One of the reasons influenza – the common flu – can kill 300-600 thousand people every year is because the virus mutates rapidly, making existing vaccines less effective. With polymorphic viruses, hackers have taken a page from nature’s playbook. Find out how they work and how to stay safe below.
Polymorphic malware is a form of malware that “mutates” as it propagates to make it more difficult to detect and block. They are created with mutation engines that, when paired with self-propagating code, form a nasty cocktail that will regularly change its code. Reinforced by encryption to hide its code, a polymorphic piece of malware is almost undetectable. Any type of malware can be mutated with a polymorphic engine – trojans, worms, keyloggers, and more.
A particularly infamous polymorphic backdoor trojan – the Storm Worm discovered in 2007 – could alter its identity every 10 to 30 minutes. The speed of the change made it a headache for cyber-security experts trying to stamp out the threat.
Now, polymorphic malware can change as frequently as 3 to 4 times a minute. Many antivirus suites employ signature-based hunting techniques. This method struggles with finding something that can change its identity every few seconds. Some of the aforementioned security methods just can’t stay ahead of the game.
According to research from Webroot, Polymorphic malware makes up 94% of all malicious software. So how do we protect ourselves from this continuously-evolving threat?
It has become necessary to have your devices protected with the most up-to-date security-ware if you want to browse the web in relative safety – especially when the enemy is armed with camouflaged viruses.
Here’s how to stay safe from the polymorphic plague:
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