WannaCray and NotPetya were the most dangerous ransomware of 2017. But they're not the only ones. Here's the malware that infected PCs and smartphones in 2017
2017 was the year cybersecurity and malware grabbed the headlines. First WannaCry and then NotPetya affected thousands of devices, bringing to their knees many small and medium-sized companies that did not have enough defenses to fend off these cyber attacks.
In both cases it was a ransomware attack, viruses that block access to computer data and demand a ransom (usually to be paid in Bitcoin) to be able to use the PC again (the only alternative is to format the device). The ransomware virus was definitely the undisputed star of 2017. But it wasn't the only one. 2017 was a real annus horribilis for the world of cybersecurity. In addition to corporate computers and servers, hackers started releasing hundreds of viruses for Android smartphones. Using third-party online stores, hackers tried to infect as many apps as possible to steal users' personal data.
Current account information and passwords to access social accounts are the new oil moving the economy. Personal data has become a very valuable commodity for hackers to sell on the dark web, the dark side of the Internet where most of the illegal trades take place. In the dark web it is possible to buy hundreds of passwords spending few tens of euro. An illegal market that you can't keep under control. And most of the viruses are created just to steal users' personal data. Here are what are the most dangerous malware of 2017 and that will also be protagonists in the coming years.
Pinkslipbot is a malware that has been running around the web since 2007 and that targets users' banking credentials. In 2017, the company McAfee discovered a new variant of it that is much more dangerous and manages to defend itself even against antivirus software. The Pinkslipbot malware is a Trojan that infects the computer and downloads other viruses to steal the user's personal data. Through a keylogger it records everything the person types on the keyboard and sends it to the hacker's computer.
One of the biggest dangers that has affected Android smartphones is the Xavier virus. It is a malware that has infected 75 applications and aims to steal users' personal data. The virus hides behind malicious advertisements: if by chance the user clicks on the advertisement it downloads malware on the smartphone that takes control of it. This way hackers can use the smartphone for their illicit purposes.
Another virus that has hit the Android world. FalseGuide was discovered at the beginning of the year and allegedly affected over two million users. The functioning would be very similar to Xavier's: taking control of the smartphone to show malicious pop-ups and advertisements on the screen. Infected devices become part of a botnet used by hackers for illegal activities.
Ransomware has not only affected computers, but also smartphones. Leaker Locker is one such ransomware virus. After infecting the cell phone, it collects the user's data and after a while locks the login screen, threatening to reveal personal information. It requires payment of a ransom in Bitcoin to stop the process.