What is a Worm?


What is a Worm?- In cybersecurity, a worm is a self-replicating malware computer software that spreads from one computer to another.

To get access to a target system, a worm exploits security flaws. Once a worm has infected one computer in a network, it utilises it as a host to scan for and infect other machines. It spreads through a computer network.

Important Points to Remember

  • A worm is a type of malware that self-replicates in order to propagate from one device to another.
  • Worms use security flaws to gain access to a target system.
  • To spread from one machine to another, the malicious application requires a computer network.
  • To duplicate and disseminate in a system, a computer programme use both the recursive approach and the law of exponential growth.
  • A worm is self-contained, complex, and contagious, and it has the capacity to exploit existing system flaws.
  • Anti-worm software is also developed and distributed by security specialists in order to research and protect computers from dangerous worms.
  • Worms can be avoided by updating operating systems, avoiding clicking on links in emails, and using up-to-date antivirus and firewall software.

How Does a Worm Work?

A computer worm utilises a recursive mechanism to replicate itself without a host programme and spread using the exponential growth equation.

To spread, computer worms rely on the behaviours of network protocols. The malicious apps also take use of existing system flaws. For example, the WannaCry ransomware exploited a flaw in the Windows Operating System’s Server Message Block (SMBv1) resource sharing protocol. Users might potentially become infected by clicking on malicious links in email attachments or visiting malicious websites.

A worm begins a network search for possible victims once it has been activated on a freshly infected machine, allowing the programme to spread throughout an organisation. The infection can spread from work to home networks if a firm has “bring your own device (BYOD) policy,” allowing attackers even more access.

Impact of a Computer Worm?

A worm almost always has a negative effect on its target.

  • The bandwidth of the target machine is consumed by a computer worm.
  • Malicious software can corrupt or change files on a computer.
  • A worm can steal sensitive information like passwords.
  • Some worms have a backdoor that allows hackers to remotely control systems.
  • A worm allows thieves to use the host machine to carry out additional types of harm, such as spamming or launching denial-of-service assaults.

What are the Features of a Worm?

  • Independence – A worm is a self-contained programme or code chunk that runs without the assistance of a host programme. Malicious programmes can run on their own and launch assaults.
  • Exploit Attacks — Because a computer worm is not limited by a host programme, the malicious malware can take advantage of various operating system flaws to launch active attacks.
  • Complexity – employing technologies like VBScript and ActiveX, fraudsters develop worms that connect with web page scripts and hide in HTML pages. By visiting a webpage hosting the malicious application, an unsuspecting user initiates the worm.
  • Worms are more contagious when compared to typical viruses. On a network, they infect local PCs, servers, and clients. Malicious software spreads quickly through shared folders, compromised websites, emails, and susceptible servers. Worms can potentially spread through software flaws.

Can a Worm Have Good Intent?

Some worms, sometimes known as anti-worms, are beneficial. The programmes are made to assist the user in some way. However, before installing an anti-worm on a target’s computer, you need obtain their permission.

What are the uses of an anti-worm?

  • System Tests: To test the network, authors and security specialists construct helpful worms. To make systems secure, you can create an anti-worm to exploit weaknesses.
  • Some researchers make helpful worms to learn more about how worms propagate. To assess the consequences of changes in user behaviour and social engagement, you can create an anti-worm.
  • Anti-worm software can assist security experts in combating the effects of other dangerous worms such as Blaster, Code Red, and Santy. Welchia is an example of a beneficial worm that exploits the same flaws that the Blaster worm does. Welchia infected systems downloaded and installed
  • Microsoft security patches for Windows without the user’s knowledge. The updates patched the systems in order to fix the exploit that Blaster was attempting to exploit.

How Can I Tell if My Computer has a Worm?

To see if your computer is infected with a worm, run a virus scan. Worms can also be detected using the steps below:

  • Keep an eye on the amount of space on your computer’s hard drive. Worms reproduce themselves and take up space on your device.
  • Keep an eye on the speed and performance of your computer. If your computer becomes sluggish and apps crash, it’s a sign that the worm is consuming your processor resources.
  • Keep an eye out for missing or new files. A computer worm has the ability to erase or replace files on your computer’s hard disc.

How Can I Prevent Worms?

  • Update your operating system: As previously stated, worms spread by exploiting weaknesses in operating systems. To prevent worms from exploiting security weaknesses, install regular security updates.
  • Awareness of the User: Unexpected emails and attachments should be avoided. Never go to a website linked in an email without first verifying the sender.
  • Use Security Software: Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software that scans, detects, and stops worms automatically. Firewalls that monitor and filter harmful network traffic can also be used.
Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Cybers Guards. Prior to that, She was responsible for leading its Cyber Security Practice and Cyber Security Operations Center, which provided managed security services.