What is Threatware? (Beginners Guide – 2023)

Threatware is a relatively new keyword that is being thrown around in the cybersecurity space. Whilst this is a new phrase, you’ve likely heard of “malware”, which is comparable, almost identical. In today’s Hakubi article, we look at what threatware is, and how you can prevent it from affecting you.

What is Threatware?

By definition, threatware is a term used to refer to computer programs or exploits that are exposed and used to gain access or cause harm to devices, systems, or files. Threatware is a synonym for malware. 

What are some examples of Threatware?

As we know, malware is closely comparable to threatware, and therefore follows the same trends. 

  1. Fileless Malware

As we know, fileless malware is malicious code that sits within a system’s memory and doesn’t actually operate as a physical file. The way it can affect a system varies, however as it runs in your computer’s memory, it can often compromise other programs to achieve persistence on your system.

  1. Viruses

Viruses are some of the oldest forms of malware/threatware, which is typically a mix of malicious software that can spread itself from one file/system to another undetected. It will often cause harm to a system, via data and software exploits.

  1. Bots

Bots, whilst itself is not a threat, multiple bots can be used for another attack such as a DDoS attack. These are quite common, and you may not even notice it happening if your computer is affected.

DDOS Ripper - being used by a Bot network.
Image Source: GitHub // palahsu
  1. Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of threat that allows a cybercriminal to typically encrypt, and destroy data whilst offering a ransom to decrypt, and restore data. Ransomware has been a major issue for large organizations all over the world. The most famous is the WannaCry ransomware

  1. Spyware

As the name suggests, Spyware is commonly a small piece of software that runs to gain further intelligence about a victim or their system. Spyware will often spy on you, before relaying it back to the adversary or attacker.

  1. Adware

Adware is a simple and usually non-harmful type of threatware which allows an attacker to promote advertisements bypassing all normal marketing laws and ‘personal space’. This is done, most commonly, via. Pop-ups and browser modifications. Adware can also turn into ransomware, bots, or viruses – so should not be ignored if found. 

  1. Trojans

Trojans are a common type of malware/threatware that disguises itself as a legitimate, often real-looking piece of software. When a  user installs, what they believe to be an application they want, the trojan may operate as expected however in most cases – will download further files and infect a system.  

What you can do to protect against Threatware

Threatware is actually quite common and will affect most people in their lifetimes, especially when technology is becoming more and more involved in everyday activities. But how do you protect yourself? Here are some top tips on how you can avoid malware or threatware from infecting your system.

  1. Keep your Computer Updated

One of the best things you can do to avoid threatware is to stay ahead of exploits and other vulnerabilities. To do this, simply updating your computer such as MacOS, or Windows 10/11 will help keep you safe when using your PC.

  1. Use Caution when Working with Links/Emails

When using emails, or being sent/seeing links – be careful! Emails account for over 70% of attacks on personal and business computers. Whilst this is a lot – most of it is from human error. Just thinking twice about clicking links, and checking if an email is a phishing email will help you avoid downloading or interacting with malware. 

Read More: How to Spot Phishing Emails (The main source of attacks!)

  1. Use Anti-Virus Software

This might be a no-brainer, but using anti-virus software, even reputable-brand free ones will save you in the long run. Whilst investing in a good piece of AV will be best – free versions will do just as well. Look for Windows Defender (if you’re on Windows), or MalwareBytes if you’re on anything else (including Windows). Both are equally as good! 

Malwarebytes to remediate Threatware
Image Source: Malwarebytes
  1. Don’t Download Anything your Unsure Of

Another no-brainer, but don’t download anything you’re not 100% sure of. Make sure you read what is being sent, expect what is to be downloaded, and make sure you’re using a reputable site/service to download from. Avoid anything that you’re not 100% confident is real and safe.

  1. Don’t Use ‘Dodgy’ Sites

When we say dodgy sites – we mean all of them. Even sites you’ve been using for years which we won’t name will likely have some links away to another site that could potentially infect your system. By avoiding using these kinds of sites, you will save yourself any problems should you download anything malicious!

In Conclusion

Overall, whilst threatware is essentially malware – we’re seeing this term being used much more frequently by entry-level analysts and cybersecurity professionals. With that being said, we hope that this guide has been useful to differentiate between the two, but let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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About the Author

Charlie K

Charlie has been working with technology since the age of 6, and has skilled up on all things technical. Cybersecurity is one aspect that has never failed to disappoint. After several years in the industry, Charlie is branching out to help others get into the industry.

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