Updated March 20, 2023
Overview of Computer Worms
computer worms can be organized into types based on how they are distributed between computers. Types of worms are as follows:
- Email Worms: Email Worms spread through malicious email as an attachment or a link of a malicious website.
- Instant Messaging Worms: Instant Messaging Worms spread by sending links to the contact list of instant messaging applications such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, etc.
- Internet Worms: Internet worm searches all available network resources using local operating system services and/or scans compromised computers over the Internet.
- IRC Worms: IRC Worms spread through Internet Relay Chat (IRC) chat channels, sending infected files or links to infected websites.
- File sharing Worms: File sharing Worms place a copy of them in a shared folder and distribute them via Peer To Peer network.
What is a Computer Worm?
- Bandwidth is consumed and servers are overloaded that causes harm to the network.
- Also rather than spreading and destroying the network, codes are written inside the worm so that the systems are destroyed with these codes. These codes steal data or create backdoors so that other systems can control the system.
- The codes also called payloads to destroy the system in a way that the infected systems are used to spread spams and destroy the entire network.
- Computer worms need no assistance and also they replicate by themselves.
- The worms use the contacts of the infected system to send mails through which other systems are infected by opening those emails.
- Once the mail is opened, the worm is downloaded and it does its work for some time without any further actions.
- Only after the system is infected, the user will know about the worm.
- Computer worms need not be attached to any software. They spread to other systems by all means.
- Worms either modify or delete the files of the system thereby overloading the system and hence the network.
- The worm creates space for a hacker to enter the system and destroy the entire network.
- Computer worms destroy the data worth years and are very malicious. Protecting our data from worms is very important.
- Security features are mostly exploited by the worms.
- Some worms also try to change the system settings.
- Examples of worms include Morris Worm, Storm Worm, SQL Slammer and so on.
- Morris developed a few lines of code to know how vast the internet is but the codes had bugs that destroyed the host systems and caused damage worth millions.
- Storm worm, as the name suggests sends mails of a news report regarding the storm. Once opened the system is affected and other contacts are also sent emails. This worm was created in 2007. Many believe that the systems are still affected by this worm which the user does not know.
- SQL Slammer created many IP addresses that were not protected with any security. This worm affected many major websites and hence the vulnerabilities of the system were exposed.
- Automatic updates should be done for all the applications to avoid potential attacks from worms.
- Most worms are identified with the help of antiviruses but since many worms are created on a daily basis, some are not detected.
- Stuxnet is a famous computer worm that was intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear plans.
Top 5 Types of Computer Worms
Computer worms are classified based on the way they are distributed in the systems. Some are explained below.
1. Email Worms
The email box is used as a client by the worm. The mail has infected link or attachment which once opened downloads the worm. This worm searches the email contacts of the infected system and sends links so that those systems are also destroyed. These worms have double extensions like mp4 or video extensions so that the user believes it to be media extensions. These worms do not have a downloadable link but a short link to open the same. The link is clicked and the worm is downloaded, it either deletes the data or modifies the same and the network is destroyed. An example of an email worm is ILOVEYOU worm which infected computers in 2000.
2. Internet Worms
Internet is used as a medium to search other machines vulnerable and affect them. Those systems where the antiviruses are not installed are affected easily with these worms. Once the machines are located they are infected and the same process is started all over again in those systems. This is used to check the recent updates and security measures if the system hasn’t installed any. The worm spreads through the internet or local area network connections.
3. File-Sharing Network Worms
When a file from an unknown source is downloaded, the file may have worm which locates a shared folder and destroys other files. When another system downloads file from the same network, the worm locates that system as well and is replicated. And the process is repeated for all the systems in the network. These worms are media or other extensions and hence users can easily download the same thinking that they are an extension of the files. A worm ‘Phatbot’ infected computers in 2004 through sharing files. This worm has stolen personal information such as credit card details and destroyed many systems on an unprecedented scale.
4. Instant Message and Chat Room Worms
These worms work as email worms as the contacts from chat rooms are taken and messages are sent to those contacts. Once the contact accepts the invitation and opens the message or link, the system is infected. The worms have either links to open websites or attachments to download. These worms are not as effective as other worms. Users can destroy these worms by changing the password and deleting the messages.
5. IRC Worms
The application Internet Relay Chat was a messaging application that was a trend once. IRC worms worked in the way email and Instant Message worms and destroyed the systems in the contact list of IRC application.
Once you feel that your system has a worm, it is very important to run a security scan and identify the same. Only the best antivirus software can help you with the same. The applications must be always updated to avoid vulnerabilities. Unknown links should be avoided by all means.
This is a guide to Types of Computer Worms. Here we discuss the overview and top 5 different types of computer worms in detail. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –